Chinese AR startup Nreal is launching its smart glasses in the UK this spring as it looks to expand into the metaverse
In 2016, Google caused quite a stir with its smart glasses before they eventually fizzled out. But now, one Chinese augmented reality (AR) glasses startup is trying to breathe new life into augmented reality (AR) glasses as metaverse gains mainstream adoption.
Today, Chinese augmented reality (AR) glasses tech startup Nreal said it will launch its Nreal Air AR glasses in the UK later this spring through an exclusive deal with local carrier EE, which is owned by telecoms giant BT.
The announcement comes just a month after the Beijing-based startup raised $60 million in funding as it looks to expand into the metaverse space, a virtual world where millions of people could gather to work, play, and socialize in immersive virtual environments and communicate across shared spaces across different platforms.
The Nreal Air has two main modes: “Air Casting” and “MR Space.” Air Casting lets users view their phone screen on a 130-inch virtual display when standing four meters away, while MR Space combines digital objects with a user’s surrounding space.
By superimposing computer graphics over real-world views through a connection to a smartphone, Nreal’s glasses enable users to watch movies or play games on large virtual displays. The glasses are designed to look like sunglasses, similar to Snap’s Spectacles line of smart glasses.
Augmented reality (AR) refers to a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. Together with its sister technology, virtual reality (VR), the two technologies serve as the basis for the new metaverse.
In a statement, Nreal Co-founder Peng Jin said he believes AR “will start a revolutionary transformation just as the internet once did.” He also added, “AR will transcend the current mobile experience, especially when it comes to watching videos, exercising, and playing PC and cloud video games.”
Founded in 2017 by Chi Xu and Bing Xiao, Nreal aims to make mixed reality available and accessible to everyone. The startup said it strives to realize the full potential of mixed reality by empowering developers to create applications that can ultimately propel a new era of entertainment, productivity, and more.
Meanwhile, Nreal is currently not selling its AR glasses in China yet, but its flagship product, the Nreal Light, has been selling in a handful of markets including Japan, Spain, and South Korea. “China is definitely a huge market, and (we plan) to enter that market next year, and also the U.S .and maybe more countries as well,” Xu said.