When Google announced the Google Glass project it took everybody by storm. Since then there were many smart glasses launched, but most of them are targeting enterprise solutions and put fashion in second place. What little offerings there currently are for consumers are a bit underwhelming and pricey. A new company, NReal, plans to offer elegant and stylish smart glasses in the near future. I know that a new company with little to no experience in wearables does not radiate trust, but NReal is backed by Qualcomm, Xiaomi, Oppo and LG, so they have a good chance of actually reaching the market.
Their first product will be NReal Light, a pair of stylish smart glasses with AR capabilities and depth-sensing cameras. To achieve this, NReal has partnered with Qualcomm’s XR platform to offer their glasses capabilities to tether directly to any Snapdragon 855 smartphone and PC compatibility will also be supported in the near future. NReal Light will offer advanced special computing that will help with AR applications as well as rendering optimizations for a smoother and more comfortable viewing experience. The glasses will also support 3rd party applications thanks to an SDK that will give developers access to the glasses sensors and cameras to fully unlock the potential of mixed reality experiences.
The NReal Light smart glasses will tether to compatible devices via a USB Type-C cable, which offers some advantages, even though it does look a bit silly. Because the glasses are connected directly to the phone using a wired connection means that they do not require their own power source. This allowed Nreal to make them really light, at only 88 grams. Furthermore, some processing can be done directly on the phone, allowing for more advanced applications without the need for bulky boards on the glasses.
The final product is not ready yet, but Nreal will release the Nreal Light developer kit and SDK beta in September. The dev kit contains a pair of NReal Light glasses, a controller, a computing unit and a power adapter. These are targeted towards companies or small development teams that are capable of building strong mobile apps, and not to the general public. Also, the $1199 price tag is quite steep for the average consumer. Interested devs can find out more at their Developer portal.
The final version will be released in 2020 and hopefully, by then there will already by a good collection of applications. The consumer version will be priced at a more reasonable $499. Until then, hopefully, we will see more demos like the one above with the glasses’ capabilities. These may not be the smart glasses of the future that everybody is expecting (the tech is not quite there yet), but if done correctly, NReal Light may be a good step towards the wearable future that we dream.