As excitement builds for the consumer release of Nreal’s Light augmented reality glasses this fall, the company is continuing to entice developers to support the affordable, Android-based wearable. Today, Nreal announced two important upgrades to its Light software development kit — multi-user environments and WebXR support — as well as a couple of deals that will likely bring new developers into the stable.
If you’re not yet familiar with Nreal Light, here’s a quick recap: Unlike Microsoft and Magic Leap, which developed $2,300 to $3,500 enterprise AR headsets with their own computing platforms, Nreal created lightweight $500 glasses that use Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 855, or 865 smartphones for processing, storage, and wireless network connectivity. Currently available as an $1,119 Development Kit, Light has already been embraced by multiple cellular carriers and XR collaborative workspace developer Spatial, thanks to the headset’s ability to facilitate next-generation remote work, remote assistance, and entertainment. An all-in-one enterprise model is planned for release in the last quarter of this year, directly challenging Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 and the troubled Magic Leap One.
Starting today, users of the Light Development Kit will be able to access “multiplayer” mode, a feature that lets multiple headset wearers see and interact with one another inside a shared mixed reality environment. Business users will be able to share digital collaborative workspaces and meeting rooms using the feature, while developers will also be able to develop multi-person cooperative or competitive games. To facilitate multiplayer mode testing, Nreal is offering a bundle with two Light headsets and a $500 magnetic prescription lens set for $2,559, a 14% discount off their separately purchased prices.
On May 28, Nreal and Deutsche Telekom’s tech incubator Hubraum will globally launch a Mixed Reality Program partnership to find, accelerate, and release new mixed reality apps for Nreal Light. The partners will focus on productivity and entertainment apps, with plans to either include or feature the apps during Light’s consumer launch. Additionally, developers interested in learning how to create Nreal-compatible apps will get access to Nreal Tower, a tower defense-style sample game, as well as a Slack channel to co-build the game with the Nreal team. A finished version of Tower will become generally available along with the Light Consumer Kit.
Last, but not least, Nreal says it’s adding WebXR support to the Light platform, enabling web applications to properly display content through the stereoscopic 3D glasses. WebXR apps effectively allow developers to offer their mixed reality content over the web in a platform-agnostic format that doesn’t require Google, Apple, Microsoft, or another company to serve as a gatekeeper. These apps will apparently be accessible through the Nebula 3D launcher Nreal developed for Android phones, following an SDK update coming “later this year.”