Some consider AR or augmented reality to be the next step forward in computing. Unlike VR, AR mixes the real and the digital in an almost seamless manner, at least ideally speaking. That goal is difficult to pull off, however, with bulky and heavy headsets that require you to be chained to a desktop or a laptop. Lightweight and “normal-looking” AR glasses are the dream for this field of computing and Nreal might be bringing exactly that to the US and Europe in the next quarter.
First revealed in 2019, Nreal made the same “mixed reality” promises as the likes of Magic Leap did. It wouldn’t be until the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic year that its first iteration, the Nreal Light, would actually be available to consumers, at least in Japan and South Korea. The company says that its success in those markets has encouraged it to move forward and expand to other markets.
Unlike the bulkier but potentially more powerful Magic Leap One or Microsoft HoloLens, the Nreal Light’s significantly smaller and lighter frame doesn’t come without costs. It may not be tethered to a computer but it does require a cable connecting it to a smartphone. That’s why the mixed reality glasses were only sold in Japan and South Korea under KDDI and LG U+, respectively, bundled with phones like the Galaxy Note and LG Velvet.
Also unlike Magic Leap’s and Microsoft’s headsets, the Nreal Light is one of the very few of its kind actually marketed at consumers. How it plans to make that happen in the US, the company doesn’t yet say. It has, however, big ambitions, like expanding its Mixed Reality apps to include an MMORPG, among other things, and partnering with device makers to create compatible accessories. One of those reportedly included a controller called a FinchRing.
As already proven by other attempts at consumer AR equipment, Nreal might be facing an uphill battle, especially in global markets. The Nreal Light costs around $670, at least in Japan, a price that might be way out of reach even for developers. The company might employ a different marketing strategy in the US and Europe, though, but those details are still not available to the public yet.