Nreal light, the mixed reality (MR) headset that looks like a pair of sunglasses, just announced partnerships with Qualcomm and LG Uplus pointing to likely compatibility with the wave of 5G phones poised to hit the market. With today's newfound ability to connect to smartphones running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, nreal light is hoping to drive into the mainstream by 2020.
Nreal light works by connecting to either the included CPU, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 housed in a 170-gram square vessel, or an Android smartphone (no iPhones) via USB-C. In any case, an included controller, which can also stick to the CPU hardware, handles navigation with a touchpad and 3-Degrees of Freedom. Nreal expects to start shipping the glasses in Q3.
At Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona today, nreal announced compatibility between the nreal light and a “5G-enabled LG smartphone unveiled at MWC,” the LG V50 ThinQ. Nreal light will be able to plug into the new 5G LG phone via USB-C, and the company’s announcement promised “low latency and high data throughput on-the-go” and the ability to easily stream video from the phone to the glasses.
For someone who’s tried out nreal light, the idea of watching movies, TV or sports on it isn’t too far-fetched. I watched a live football game on the glasses during our hands-on with the nreal light at CES in January, and with 1080p images displayed in each lens and brightness up to a whopping 1,000 nits, the game was vibrant with bright greens and whites I can still recall.
Nreal will also work with LG Uplus, an LG-owned South Korean telecom, on future volumetric and panoramic MR content, primarily holographic video calls or entertainment.
“This type of content will first roll out to Korean customers, but we'll be looking to secure more carrier partnerships throughout MWC. And the compatibility will be available on most if not all 855-compatible 5G devices,” an nreal spokesperson told Tom’s Hardware.
Nreal Light’s 5G MR Push
Today’s announcement means nreal light will be able to connect to smartphones running on a Snapdragon 855 for its computing and battery power. The MR glasses should be compatible with all smartphones equipped with the Snapdragon 855 platform, as long it supports 5G. We asked nreal if this includes Samsung's 5G smartphones arriving this spring and were told nreal hasn’t tested this yet and can’t guarantee it, but “technically speaking we believe it could be possible.”
Nreal is also working with developers Sensetime and Netease to develop relevant content for the glasses. It’s interested in bringing MR, augmented reality and virtual reality content to the glasses, Chi Xu, nreal CEO and founder, told Tom’s Hardware. Its partnership with Qualcomm connects it with the vendor's ecosystem partners, including HTC, Sprint, NextVR and more.
In addition to seeking out more relevant partnerships, the vendor recently brought foldable arms to the glasses (like the Vuzix Blade and North Focals smart glasses) for better ease of use. It’s one of the reasons nreal thinks it can grow adoption in the U.S., Xu noted.
“It's a familiar shape that we truly believe will make it frictionless for consumers to purchase an MR device,” he told Tom’s Hardware.
Nreal light will also offer 6-DoF tracking and SLAM (simultaneous localization mapping), plus plane and object recognition.
nreal light MR Headset Specs
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|Operating System||Android OS|
|Field of View||52 degrees|
|Degrees of Freedom (DoF)||Headset: 6DoFController: 3DoF|
|Image||1080p resolution per eyeUp to 1,000 nits brightness|
|Weight||Headset: 0.2 pounds / 85gCPU unit: 0.4 pounds / 170gDetachable controller: 0.1 pounds / 23g|
|Battery Life||About 3 hours|
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Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.