Chinese augmented reality company Nreal is launching a Steam beta on its Nreal Light and Nreal Air AR goggles, which will allow users to stream games from a PC to a virtual big screen. The company says the beta will go live in late June, loosely coinciding with a June 27 hackathon designed to attract AR developers with $100,000 in cash prizes. The move could expand Nreal’s software ecosystem and offer more in some surprisingly good – but still limited – early AR goggles.
Nreal suggests that the Steam beta can be finicky, admitting in a press release that it “requires a bit of setup effort and isn’t optimized for all Steam games.” It joins the option to stream Xbox Cloud Gaming titles through Nreal’s Nebula platform, as well as a variety of streaming video apps. Nreal touts the beta as compatible with Dirty Rally and the Halo series. It promises that users will see their games on the equivalent of a 200-inch HD screen.
Nreal’s Light glasses, which first rolled out in Asia before launching in the US last year, are designed to plug into a Samsung or OnePlus Android phone. They’re less fully featured than high-end business-focused headsets from companies like Magic Leap and Microsoft, but they’re also much more affordable at $599 and support relatively advanced features like AR anchoring and hand tracking. (The Air Glasses are a lighter but more limited set of smart glasses designed for streaming video.)
But there’s also a limited amount of content that takes advantage of these features, and in the US in particular, the Nebula platform has launched without support for popular streaming apps like Netflix – forcing users to watch videos with the less convenient Android app mirroring system. . Nreal’s AR Jam development contest encourages app creation in areas such as fitness and art, as well as converting existing apps into AR. In addition to the cash prizes for the event, it says it plans to create a long-term fund for incubating AR development.
AR glasses are an increasing area of focus for major companies like Meta and Apple, and while Nreal was an early entrant to the market, it may be facing an increasingly crowded field. But every company is still figuring out what to do with AR goggles — and features like Steam streaming could help test the waters.