Augmented reality company Nreal is launching a cheaper, iOS-compatible, more compact version of its smart glasses. The new Nreal Air glasses are supposed to ship starting in December 2021 across Japan, China, and South Korea. The price isn’t set, but Nreal says they’ll cost “a fraction of the price” of its earlier Nreal Light glasses, which started selling for around $600 last year.
Based on Nreal’s description, the new Nreal Air glasses have some core similarities with the Nreal Light glasses from 2020. Both are designed to look like relatively normal sunglasses and pitched as ideal for projecting a virtual big-screen display in front of your eyes. They’re both using micro OLED displays for their augmented reality optics and are powered by a phone via a tether cable. And they’re both aimed at consumers rather than businesses, researchers, or the military.
But Nreal Air glasses have a different feature set than their predecessors. Similar to Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap hardware, the original Nreal Light glasses could map physical space around you with a set of outward-facing cameras. Nreal Air glasses, by contrast, don’t have any outward-facing cameras. They can display video and phone apps, but they can’t see what’s around you, which means they don’t have the spatial awareness and hand tracking options the Nreal Light does. You’ll control them with a smartphone app, an option that’s also available on Light glasses.