SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Korea Bizwire) — LG Uplus Corp., a major South Korean telecom firm, said Tuesday it will launch augmented reality (AR) glasses in partnership with Chinese mixed-reality product developer Nreal and chipmaker Qualcomm Inc., boosting its 5G services by tapping into the budding wearable AR market.
The world’s first 5G-based glass device available for users, named “U+ Real Glass,” will hit the shelves on Aug. 21.
While global tech giants, such as Google and Microsoft, have already featured similar devices, they fell short of expectations due to their hefty weight and price.
LG Uplus said its device, manufactured by Nreal after partnering with the Beijing-based startup last year, is more user-friendly, weighing just 88 grams and priced at 699,000 won (US$590).
The glasses, which connect to a user’s smartphone via USB, can project multiple applications as if they are on a 100-inch display.
The smartphone serves as a remote for the device, though the company plans for an update next year that will allow hand gestures to control the device.
The device will also support LG Uplus’ 5G-based AR content, which allows users to watch performances of life-size celebrities.
The glasses will be exclusively offered to LG Uplus 5G users and on select smartphones, including Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Note 20.
The company plans to launch a conference-call service using the device later this year, in partnership with U.S.-based AR developer Spatial.
Nreal said it decided to launch its device in South Korea first among other global markets due to the country’s high-speed 5G network.
“As AR content takes up a considerable amount of data, it was important to release the product in an established 5G environment,” said Joshua Yeo, vice president of Nreal.
“We are targeting launches in Europe and Japan by the end of this year and early next year.”
LG Uplus had 1.8 million 5G subscribers as of June, accounting for 24 percent of the country’s 7.4 million 5G users in total, according to ICT ministry data.
Global shipments of AR glasses are expected to reach 41.1 million units in 2024, compared with just 200,000 units last year, according to industry tracker International Data Corp.