Augmented reality firm Nreal’s latest augmented reality glasses, called Nreal Air, are headed to the UK later this spring in partnership with EE. Touting a more compact, smarter design that’s compatible with iOS devices as well as Android smartphones, the 5G-connected Nreal Air glasses are one of few consumer-focused headsets that will be available in 2022.
Described as providing a “201-inch expanded Full HD virtual display at 6 meters” the lightweight glasses look to be a convenient way to watch movies, play games and browse apps when on the go. The OLED displays sound good too, with a high resolution (3840 x 1080), a smooth 90Hz refresh rate and a 46-degree viewing angle.
The Nreal Air glasses work in two main modes. The first, Air Casting mode, is where your phone’s display is mirrored to the glasses, allowing you to view your apps and content on a fixed virtual big screen that appears in front of you.
The second is dubbed the “MR Space” – not Mister, but Mixed Reality – which blends the real and digital worlds and positions “multiple virtual screens as large as 201 inches in 3D space”.
Interestingly, Nreal and EE see the glasses as a gaming device, boasting the ability to
play cloud-streamed games when connected to a
Bluetooth controller. Depending on performance, the glasses could provide a discreet alternative compared to mobile or laptop gameplay.
However, it’s important to note that these aren’t fully-fledged AR glasses like those rumoured to be in development at
companies including Meta and Apple, lacking the exterior cameras to properly map the environment, overlay UI elements and track hand input.
Instead, it’ll offer 3DoF (degrees of freedom) head tracking like mobile-powered VR headsets, with input primarily from your paired smartphone – similar to that of the
Vive Flow. If you were hoping to get AR map directions displayed on your walk or preview incoming notifications via the glasses, you’ll be disappointed.
There is a benefit to the lack of ‘true’ AR smarts though; the AR glasses are much more compact and lightweight when compared to smart AR headsets like
Microsoft’s HoloLens 2. The Nreal Air come in at a form factor more comparable to
Meta’s Ray-Ban Stories, sporting a classic sunglasses design that doesn’t scream ‘high tech’.
In fact, some might even consider the sunglasses to be stylish. Imagine that.
They weigh in at just 77g, which should make them comfortable over longer periods of use, and each pair of glasses come with a set of nose pads to improve comfort further. There’s also an optional lens frame that’ll let you use your own prescription lenses if necessary, negating the need to wear your normal glasses underneath.
When not in use, you can store the Nreal Air glasses in the provided compact carry case.
There are still some unknowns around the AR glasses, particularly when it comes to specific smartphone compatibility.
Nreal confirmed that the Air AR glasses would work with select Android and iOS devices at its announcement back in September 2021, EE is yet to confirm which UK models will work with the accessory – though it promised a full list by launch.
EE is also yet to confirm how much the glasses will cost, as well as a release date, but with a promise of a launch “later this Spring” it seems there isn’t long until we find out. If you want to register your interest ahead of launch, you can sign up via
the EE website right now.
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