Chinese AR start-up Nreal launches smart glasses in the UK

Attendees look at NReal’s augmented reality glasses on the final day of CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Nreal, a Chinese augmented reality start-up, plans to bring its smart glasses to the UK

The Beijing-based company said on Tuesday that it will launch its Nreal Air AR glasses in the UK later this spring through an exclusive deal with local airline EE, which is owned by telecommunications group BT.

Nreal’s glasses allow users to watch movies or play games on large virtual screens. Users can do this by connecting the glasses to their smartphone via a cable. They are designed to look like sunglasses, similar to the Snaps Spectacles series of smart glasses.

Nreal Air has two main modes: “Air Casting” and “MR Space.” Air Casting lets users see their phone screen on a 130-inch virtual screen when standing four feet away, while MR Space combines digital objects with a user’s surrounding space.

Nreal did not provide an exact release date or price for the device. A spokesman said more details would be revealed “at a later date”.

Buzz around the meta verse

Nreal is one of countless companies hoping to bring augmented reality – which mixes three-dimensional digital objects with the real world – to a more ordinary audience. The technology has been around for years, but like virtual reality, it has struggled to find commercial success.

Now that the technology world is teeming with talk of the so-called “metaverse,” it has given technologies like AR and VR a new lease of life. Companies like Microsoft and Facebook, or Meta as it is now known, want to build huge digital worlds where millions of users can interact – and trade – with each other.

Peng Jin, co-founder of Nreal, said he believes AR “will start a revolutionary transformation just like the Internet once did.”

“AR will transcend the current mobile experience, especially when it comes to watching videos, training and playing PC and cloud video games,” he added.

The company was founded in 2017 and has to date created two AR headsets: Nreal Light and Nreal Air, the latter of which debuted last year. The company has raised over $ 230 million to date from investors including Alibaba, Nio and Sequoia Capital China. It was last valued at $ 700 million.

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