Lightweight AR smartglasses demoed at MWC

March 13, 2019 //By Julien Happich
Lightweight AR smartglasses demoed at MWC
This year, Mobile World Congress was all about 5G, infrastructure and handsets, getting ready to support data-intensive low-latency VR content wirelessly.

Achieving sub-5ms wireless transmission latency promises truly immersive (delay-free and without the vertigo) virtual reality experiences, as the many VR demos proved at the show. Beyond gaming, VR already has promising use cases for virtual hotel and building tours, city tours and 3D 360º video, but the cumbersome view-blocking headsets struggle to attract consumers’ dollars.

This where proponents of lightweight Augmented Reality solutions hope to succeed. Founded in January 2017, Chinese startup nreal had a demo running on the Qualcomm stand, demonstrating a pair of foldable high brightness 1080p resolution AR glasses with a 52° field of view, believed to be the industry’s lightest at 85 grams only.

Nreal’s Spokesperson Francis Bea didn’t want to say much about the optics nor the display engine, but seen from the outside, light seemed to shine through thick slanted optics as if guided from the top of the frame through a built-in graded-index light guide. In fact, the optics clearly looked as if they were the heaviest part of the glasses.

However, to make its AR glasses lightweight and foldable, the company made the strategic choice to leverage users’ smartphones (a given for content streaming) for power and image processing through a USB-C cable. The design can easily accommodate prescription lenses as the front lens snaps magnetically in place for a simple swap.


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