These sunglasses bring a virtual chef in your kitchen
Steffen Henssler knows what it means to cook on TV. Cameras, headlights, stressed recording conductors. The TV chef is used to all this. But this time everything was different. This time he had to squeeze into a tight full-body suit covered with sensors. A frame fixed a smartphone camera just a few centimeters in front of his face.
Because Henssler should not just be on the screen. He should be into mixed reality, into a mixed reality. Pictured in augmented reality glasses (AR). For this, Henssler had to get a virtual clone – and be scanned virtually in its entirety.
With Henssler, the mobile communications group Vodafone is launching its new platform Giga AR, on which applications are to be found in the future that complement our reality with virtual representations. The cooking app starts with Henssler and recipes from Kitchen Stories.
If you want to see the chef at work three-dimensionally from a distance, you need AR glasses. Vodafone has teamed up with the Chinese start-up Nreal to bring the first AR glasses for private users to Germany. Deutsche Telekom is also preparing a corresponding offer together with Nreal. WELT was already able to test the glasses.
While private users have been able to choose between different virtual reality glasses (VR) for a long time, augmented reality glasses have so far only been reserved for professional users. VR glasses are heavy and large glasses that place their wearers in games and environments where they are completely isolated from the actual reality around them.
VR glasses are available for example from Oculus, Sony, HTC (Vive) and HP. In contrast, AR glasses are transparent. Users see their environment while virtual objects are displayed and refer to the real environment.
For example, instructions can be displayed to technical employees who are currently repairing a machine. Such glasses as the Hololens from Microsoft or the Magic Leap cost 2000 to 3000 euros. Although they are more discreet than VR glasses, they still have powerful frames.
The Nreal Light has nothing to do with these professional glasses. Although the mobile operators have not yet published their prices, according to information from WELT, the glasses will cost less than 700 euros.
Vodafone and Telekom prepare packages together with a smartphone and are likely to deliver the devices at a reduced price in connection with a mobile phone contract. So Vodafone wants to sell the glasses together with the smartphone Oppo Find X3 Pro in the more expensive mobile phone tariffs at the start for one euro.
The market for VR and AR glasses is still small. Experts expect a breakthrough only when they reach the size of normal glasses. The Nreal Light is actually approaching as the first glasses of this size. It weighs just 106 grams, although in addition to two microphones and speakers, it also has cameras and some sensors built in to be able to detect the position of the glasses wearer in the room. On request, corrective lenses can also be inserted.
The Nreal Light is connected to an Android smartphone via a cable. From there, it gets the power on the one hand, and the computing power on the other, so that virtual objects can also be represented three-dimensionally. The glasses are not compatible with iPhones. According to reports, Apple is working on its own AR glasses.
The darker the environment, the better the image
In the test, the Nreal Light was also much more comfortable to wear over a longer period of time than VR glasses. If the glasses are connected to the smartphone, Nreal’s Nebula user interface automatically starts with an overview of the installed apps.
The selection is currently not too large. Although the Google applications Chrome, Maps, Photos and YouTube are available. But like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, they are presented only as two-dimensional displays.
The interface is operated via the smartphone, which then functions as a laser pointer. If the pointer is pointed at an app icon, the application can be opened with a tap on the display. The applications can then be placed freely in the room, and enlarged or reduced.
Although this has nothing to do with augmented reality, it is already impressive. Because the glasses have a Full HD resolution on each side and represents both the text in the browser and films on YouTube correspondingly sharp, bright and with strong colors. At the same time, however, you can also see your own surroundings, as if you were looking through sunglasses. The darker the environment, the better the appearance in the glasses.
However, the field of view of the displays is limited to 52 degrees. This is not much and means that you should not put on displays too much, because they are then cut off at the edges. The glasses create the impression that you are watching videos on a TV with a diagonal of two metres – and that’s fun.
Since the glasses get the power from the smartphone, however, the battery level drops quickly there. But it’s enough for a two-hour film. After a few minutes, the glasses also get warm, but not nearly as uncomfortable as you know it from some VR glasses. In the test, the glasses switched off automatically when the battery level had dropped to 30 percent.
With the Nreal even three apps can be opened at the same time and distributed accordingly in the room. With its sensors and cameras, the glasses memorize the location of the displays in the room, so that they remain in their place, even if you leave the room and come back again, for example.
There is also a projection mode in the glasses, where the smartphone applications are simply mirrored. This also allows you to use apps that have not been specially adapted for the glasses, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
A few apps in the Nebula view are labeled “MR”, which stands for mixed reality. It doesn’t always have to be meant that way, but at least it becomes three-dimensional there. In the Spatial application, you can meet other users in virtual spaces as an avatar and work on joint projects. The application is also available for other AR and VR glasses.
Deutsche Telekom has shown an application in the past where users can look at a dragon cave and walk around it. Even a flying dragon appears in the scene. The Tagesschau 2025, which was originally designed for tablets, has also been adapted for the Nreal. There a newscaster appears in 3D as a demo.
Of course, the MR apps also include the Giga AR from Vodafone. In fact, the included cooking application is suitable for use in the kitchen, because it can also be controlled with the eye on request, so that you do not have to touch the smartphone at all. If the view lingers a little longer on a button, it is pressed. For example, the cooking video can be paused.
It gets really interesting when suddenly star chef Henssler jumps out of the video, hovers in front of you in three dimensions and gives additional tips. If you move around him, he even follows you with his gaze and turns his head – a little magical moment.
But in order to make augmented reality a mass market, it needs even more of it. As our test shows, Nreal has the technical equipment for this. Now it only needs the applications.