After piloting the Nreal Light in South Korea and Japan via carrier partnerships and securing another round of funding, Nreal is now ready to begin selling the consumer edition of the smartglasses to the western world as well as introduce a version for enterprise customers.
At Mobile World Congress Shanghai on Tuesday (Monday evening in the US), the China-based startup announced that its Nreal Light augmented reality glasses will launch in the US in the second quarter of 2021 as well as in the European Union through two leading regional carriers.
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In addition, Nreal unveiled the Nreal Enterprise Edition, an AR headset that combines Nreal Light's slimmed-down design with a wrap-around adjustable headband similar to the HoloLens. The headset is expected to launch in 2021.
"Mixed Reality is emerging as a transformative technology that is already seeing high rates of engagement perspective and incrementally changing how we interact with our mobile devices, from watching films on a digital IMAX-size screen, or collaborating with colleagues from one's bedroom," said Chi Xu, CEO and founder of Nreal, in a statement. "With the initial success we've seen with our carrier partners, we're scaling this strategy and excited to get Nreal Light into the hands of American consumers by April of this year."
While the company did not divulge sales figures, it did share usage statistics via its partner in South Korea, LG Uplus. Users interacted with Nreal Light an average of 49 minutes per day, with the top 20% of users logging an average of 120 minutes daily.
"In fact, amid a 'new norm' combined with the growing appetite for a new, immersive mixed reality platform, our customers have found solace in reviving their pre-pandemic theater-going and face-to-face meetings through Nreal Light," said Song Dae-won, the executive vice president of LG Uplus's Future Device Unit. "To fulfill this growing demand for MR technology and content, LG Uplus also boasts a MR content catalog of more than 3,000, in addition to the Android apps that can be downloaded from the Google Play store and mirrored on Nreal Light"
Along with the product roadmap, Nreal shared some AR apps that are under development for the Nreal Light, including a holographic weather app called Taggesschau 2025, a basketball game dubbed DUNKAAR, a fantasy role-playing game titled Dragon Awakening, and Magenta Sports AR, a soccer app that will enable viewers to follow matches in 3D.
Ideally, many more mainstream apps can conceivably arrive for Nreal Light and its Android-based Nebula operating system if their developers opt to port them as 3D apps. Otherwise, users can interact with 2D versions of apps from Google Play in their AR space.
The launch of Nreal Light in the US and Europe will be the true litmus test for Nreal. A ban Huawei smartphones and near ban on TikTok in the US demonstrate the stigma on tech products from China due to national security risks. How Nreal handles these waters will dictate whether the company can fulfill its quest to claim the first truly mainstream consumer smartglasses.