XReal’s $699 Air 2 Ultra, announced at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, aims to bring an Apple-esque flavor to AR glasses.
The Air 2 Ultra comes with 1,920×1,080 pixels per eye resolution, up to 120Hz refresh rate (2D mode 120 Hz, 3D mode 90Hz), 500 nits display brightness, a titanium frame, six degrees of freedom (DoF) tracking, dual 3D cameras, two built-in stereo speakers and two microphones. The Air 2 Ultra offers spatial computing, a hallmark of Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro mixed reality headset, at $699, which is one-fifth the price.
Affordable pricing will spur adoption and allow mainstream experimentation of this new device, providing feedback to XReal, which the company can use to improve future iterations, much like Samsung did for its foldable devices.
AR glasses for developers
Anisha Bhatia, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, says, “The Air 2 Ultra is aimed primarily at developers. Although XReal’s website says the glasses are available to ‘anyone who is interested,’ the Air 2 is packed with more developer-friendly features than its $400 predecessor. XReal knows that the key to AR is more content and has wisely aimed these glasses at developers. The more the content and services, the more the appeal of a unique device like AR glasses, which will help spur adoption, growing and moving this category forward.”
Bhatia continues: “The XReal Air 2 Ultra is not exactly a Vision Pro or Quest 3 competitor, but it also is one due to the inclusion of spatial computing, highlighting the undefined nature of this device segment.
The AR glasses market is in its infancy and any company which can rustle up mass market appeal can gain a competitive edge, albeit only till Big Tech shows up with deep pockets and/or an ecosystem of services and devices. But what does remain clear is that all players, direct rivals or not, adhere to the idea of Apple bringing global attention to a market segment, and to be tagged with mentions of the tech giant is to ensure media eyeballs on their own products.”
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XReal also announced several strategic partnerships at CES 2024 such as with Qualcomm for 5G silicon specifically created for the AR glass form factor, which will aid in on-device app performance; with Quintar for spatial 3D video for an immersive content watching experience, similar to what was shown on Apple’s Vision Pro; with Forma Vision on holographic meeting software that attempts to rival FaceTime; with BMW for an overlay of navigation instructions, hazard warnings, and visual parking instructions; and with luxury car maker Nio, an investor in XReal, with an aim to reduce the number of screens on the dashboard.
These partnerships indicate a variety of use cases that could emerge in the consumer AR segment, providing a pathway to the future of AR glasses.