UK cellular operator EE is teaming up with Chinese start-up Nreal to bring the Nreal Air AR glasses to the UK. The glasses are available in China, Japan and South Korea since December 2021and will come exclusively to the UK carrier “later this spring” according to EE.
The Air goggles are the (relatively) affordable, consumer-focused sequel to Nreal’s Light goggles. They feature the equivalent of a 1080p screen up to 201 inches (six meters away) and a thin and light look designed not to stand out too much compared to regular sunglasses.
Nreal says the glasses are focused on consumer use cases like watching movies, shows, and playing games. The Nreal Air will also have a mixed reality feature called “MR Space” which will allow users to pin app windows in 3D space inside the glasses.
Despite the ‘Air Casting’ moniker used to describe the glasses’ screen mirroring technology, the glasses don’t have a built-in battery and will therefore plug into compatible smartphones via an included USB-C cable. The company’s previous glasses, the Light, used DisplayPort over USB-C as the protocol and were therefore compatible with any other device using DisplayPort over USB-C. We contacted the company to see if this compatibility is also in the Air goggles.
Other notable details are the included prescription lens frames for nearsighted people, a hard carrying case for transport, three included nose pads for adjustable comfort, open-ear speakers and two microphones for the audio, and angle adjustment for viewing goggle screens. Nreal also promises five hours of screen mirroring battery life for the connected smartphone.
Take a big screen on the go
The last time we saw the glasses was at CES 2020 with an early development sample. Air glasses look a lot more stylish these days, so you won’t look like a total jerk wearing them in public.
With a virtual 131-inch screen, when mirroring from a smartphone, you’ll be able to take a larger screen than most TVs with you wherever you go. AR and MR glasses have attempted this sort of thing in the past (you may remember Google Glass), but these ended up being expensive, business-focused machines of little use, at least for consumers. Nreal has even had mixed success with its own offerings, but third time around might be the startup’s charm.
Pricing details are forthcoming, but as previously mentioned, Nreal wants the glasses to be (relatively) affordable for the average interested consumer. Most large OLED displays can cost thousands of dollars, so we’re excited to see what a consumer-focused pair of AR glasses can do.
And we await news of the arrival of the glasses on American shores.