These slick new AR glasses project shockingly high-quality visuals
A surprisingly capable Magic Leap competitor in a much slimmer package
Like virtual reality before it, augmented reality is the newest, hyped-up technology ripped straight from science fiction that technology companies worldwide are trying to bring to life. But unlike most fledgling companies in the burgeoning AR space that are still dealing in half-finished prototypes and experimental proof-of-concepts, Chinese startup Nreal has arrived on the scene this week with a surprisingly capable pair of AR glasses scheduled to hit the market later this year.
I got to try an early version of the company’s product and came away impressed with what I saw. There are two selling points to Nreal’s glasses. The first is that they don’t look awful and you might actually feel comfortable wearing them in public, or at the very least in front of your friends or family at home. On the technical end, it’s also quite the feat that Nreal packed all that projection gear, sensors, and cameras into a frame that’s way slimmer than, say, the Vuzix Blade glasses. Nreal says the glasses weigh just 85 grams, or less than one fifth of a pound.
The second is that the glasses push 1080p projection through both lenses with a 52-degree field of view, letting them achieve something much closer to the Magic Leap One headsetor Microsoft’s HoloLens than what we’ve seen most AR glasses shoot for in the past, which tend to be nothing more than a jazzier heads-up display. (The FOV on Nreal’s device actually beats that of both the Magic Leap and HoloLens, although the next HoloLens will supposedly include a much improved FOV.)
I will say that I was shocked at how high-quality the visuals were. As someone who has recently tried demos on the Magic Leap One, these were almost as good in a much less obtrusive package. I was able to try a few experiences, the first of which let me project a screen onto the wall and resize it with a small circular controller. The second demo featured a trio of virtual dancers on the table in front of me. Both featured incredibly crisp visuals, and the wide FOV makes a huge difference when it comes to actually enjoying what you’re looking at instead of having to spend half the time making sure you don’t clip part of the image off by moving your head.