MailOnline is testing EE’s £400 ‘Nreal Air’ AR glasses which project a cinema-sized screen in front of you

The idea of ​​augmented reality sunglasses that instantly project a cinema-sized screen in front of you might sound like a concept from the latest sci-fi blockbuster.

But they should become a reality next week, with EE launching the Nreal Air glasses in the UK.

The futuristic glasses look like a normal pair of sunglasses from the front, but have two OLED displays hidden behind the lenses.

When connected to a smartphone, these can project a virtual 201-inch Imax-size screen 20 feet in front of your eyes, allowing you to stream movies and play games over 5G on the go.

Ahead of their UK launch via EE on May 20, MailOnline’s Shivali Best has gotten its hands on the £399.99 smart glasses.

Ahead of their UK launch via EE on May 20, MailOnline’s Shivali Best got their hands on the £399.99 smart glasses

From the front, the Nreal Air goggles have a classic Wayfarer-like design

Despite two OLED screens, the glasses are surprisingly light, weighing just 79g

The futuristic glasses look like a normal pair of sunglasses from the front, but have two hidden OLED displays behind the lenses

Nreal Air Goggles: Key Specs

Open form factor: 148mm x 52mm x 159mm

Closed form factor: 148mm x 52mm x 60mm

Able: Up to 5 hours in Air Casting mode

Mass: 79 grams

Virtual screen size: 130 inches in Air Casting mode, 201 inches in MR Space mode

Audio: 2 open-ear speakers

Price: £399.99

Availablity: May 20

When I first heard about the Nreal Air glasses, I had a hard time imagining how they would work or why anyone would want to use them instead of a standard screen.

However, trying them out for myself I was pleasantly surprised at how effective they were and I can definitely see the appeal.

The sunglasses have a classic Wayfarer-like design and, despite the dual OLED displays, they’re surprisingly light, weighing just 79g.

They connect to your smartphone via a basic USB-C cable and instantly project a giant screen right in front of your eyes, with small speakers in the arms that stream audio straight to your ears.

In Mixed Reality mode, you can watch YouTube videos or surf the web, with the ability to open multiple screens at the same time in vertical or horizontal orientations.

To navigate in this mode, your smartphone serves as a virtual pointer.

When you point your smartphone at the virtual screen in front of you, a white laser line appears and you can tap the smartphone to “click” on an app or object you want to interact with.

It took some getting used to, but is likely to be a feature that becomes second nature after a few sessions – much like using the trackpad on a laptop.

My favorite feature in Mixed Reality mode was a cycling tool, where you could choose different courses around the world and see them appear in front of you.

I chose a route along the Malibu coast, which presented itself to me as I pedaled a stationary bike – something that would definitely make a session at the gym more appealing!

The other mode is Air Casting, in which your smartphone is mirrored onto the virtual screen in front of you.

When connected to a smartphone, they can project a virtual 201-inch Imax-size screen 20 feet in front of your eyes, allowing you to stream movies and play games over 5G on the go.

When connected to a smartphone, they can project a virtual 201-inch Imax-size screen 20 feet in front of your eyes, allowing you to stream movies and play games over 5G on the go.

Connecting a Bluetooth game controller can also turn your smartphone into a portable console when paired with a game streaming platform.

Connecting a Bluetooth game controller can also turn your smartphone into a portable console when paired with a game streaming platform.

This opens viewing options to all the apps you have installed on your smartphone, including games, streaming apps, or social media.

For example, tapping on the BT Sports app I was able to enjoy a rugby match on the 130-inch virtual screen, while tapping on the MailOnline app I was able to browse the best stories of the day.

Connecting a Bluetooth gamepad can also turn your smartphone into a portable console when paired with a game streaming platform.

I tested a game on a connected Xbox, which I admittedly was terrible at, but I can definitely see glasses becoming go-to options for more experienced gamers who don’t have access to a big screen.

In Mixed Reality mode, users can expand the virtual screen in front of them to 201 inches - almost like in an IMAX theater

In Mixed Reality mode, users can expand the virtual screen in front of them to 201 inches – almost like in an IMAX theater

To navigate in this mode, your smartphone serves as a virtual pointer.  When you point your smartphone at the virtual screen in front of you, a white laser line appears and you can tap the smartphone to

To navigate in this mode, your smartphone serves as a virtual pointer. When you point your smartphone at the virtual screen in front of you, a white laser line appears and you can tap the smartphone to “click” on an app or object you want to interact with.

I was pleasantly surprised by the realism of the virtual screen in front of my eyes and can see myself using them at the gym or on vacation when I can't easily access a big screen TV.

I was pleasantly surprised by the realism of the virtual screen in front of my eyes and can see myself using them at the gym or on vacation when I can’t easily access a big screen TV.

A setback with the glasses is battery life – the frames themselves don’t have a battery, and instead your smartphone powers the glasses.

While EE offers up to five hours of video streaming in Air Casting mode, that would likely drain your smartphone of all its power.

And with the glasses connected to your smartphone via USB-C, the only option to charge them while using them would be to buy a wireless charger.

The glasses also come with a fairly hefty price tag of £399.99 which may put some buyers off.

Importantly, the Nreal Air glasses are available for 39,799 yen (£254) in Japan, almost £150 cheaper than in the UK.

However, EE is offering existing customers the option of spreading the cost of the glasses over 11 months for £35/month plus an upfront cost of £10, which might be more appealing.

As with all smart glasses, seeing is believing.

I was pleasantly surprised by the realism of the virtual screen in front of my eyes and can see myself using them at the gym or on vacation when I can’t easily access a big screen TV.

If you want to see them for yourself, I recommend you visit one of EE’s flagship stores from May 20.

WHICH COMPANIES WORK ON AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES?

Last year, Snap unveiled its next generation of glasses, which are the first to feature augmented reality (AR)

Last year, Snap unveiled its next generation of glasses, which are the first to feature augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality (AR) glasses have seen a resurgence in desirability, with a host of companies working to develop their own technology.

Bose recently joined a rapidly growing list of tech companies making augmented reality glasses.

The first company to enter the race was Google, which launched Google Glass in 2011.

Google Glass, now called Glass, has evolved from a consumer product to an enterprise product, used by companies like Boeing.

Since then, several companies have released their own products.

Secret startup Magic Leap started working on a prototype several years ago, but finally launched its “mixed reality” smart glasses in 2018.

Rochester, New York-based tech company Vuzix launched its Vuzix Blade eyewear in 2019 for around $1,300.

They use a small projector to display a virtual image in the upper right corner of their lenses.

Wearers can connect to WiFi and read emails and other messages through the screen, as well as use Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, to issue voice commands.

Amazon is also rumored to be working on its own AR glasses that will be released in the future.

Additionally, Intel launched its prototype smart glasses, the Vaunt, earlier this year.

The glasses use retinal projection to put a small screen over the wearer’s eyeball.

Snap has launched its Spectacles and there are rumors that Facebook and Apple are working on AR glasses.

Niantic, the American firm being Pokemon Go, also revealed that it is partnering with Qualcomm to create its own AR headset technology.

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