Nreal, a Chinese augmented reality company, has announced the beginning of a Steam beta for its Nreal Light and Nreal Air AR glasses, which will allow users to stream games from a PC to a virtual big screen. The beta will go online towards the end of June, roughly coinciding with a hackathon on June 27th aimed at attracting AR developers with $100,000 in cash prizes. The move might help Nreal extend its software ecosystem and provide users more options with a set of surprisingly good — but still limited — early AR glasses.
The Steam beta, according to Nreal, “requires a bit of setup effort and is not optimized for all Steam games,” according to a press release. It will join the option to broadcast Xbox Cloud Gaming titles as well as a number of streaming media apps through Nreal’s Nebula platform. The beta is compatible with Dirt Rally and the Halo series, according to Nreal. Users will be able to see their games on a 200-inch HD screen, according to the company.
Nreal’s Light glasses are designed to be plugged into a Samsung or OnePlus Android phone, and were first released in Asia before being released in the United States last year. They’re not as feature-rich as high-end business-focused headsets from Magic Leap and Microsoft, but at $599, they’re significantly more affordable and include sophisticated capabilities like AR anchoring and hand tracking. (The Air glasses are a lighter, but more limited, pair of smart glasses for streaming video.)
However, there is a limited quantity of content that takes advantage of these features, and the Nebula platform launched without support for famous streaming apps like Netflix in the US, forcing users to utilise the less convenient Android app mirroring method to watch films.
Nreal’s AR Jam development challenge will reward developers who create apps in fields such as fitness and art, as well as those who convert current apps to AR. It claims it plans to create a longer-term fund for incubating AR development in addition to the monetary rewards for the event.
AR glasses are becoming a bigger priority for firms like Meta and Apple, and while Nreal was one of the first to market, it may find itself in a crowded marketplace. However, every brand is still figuring out what to do with AR glasses, and capabilities like Steam streaming could help them do so.