Alibaba leads a $60M investment in augmented reality glasses tech startup Nreal as Chinese tech giants look to expand into the metaverse
The arrival of the metaverse has led to a growing demand for virtual and augmented reality glasses. As you may recall, Google caused quite a stir in 2016 with its smart glasses before they eventually fizzled out. But now, one Chinese augmented reality (AR) glasses startup is trying to breathe new life into augmented reality (AR) glasses as metaverse gains mainstream adoption.
Nreal is a Chinese augmented reality (AR) glasses tech startup and maker of ready-to-wear mixed reality glasses. We covered Nreal back in the summer of last year after it raised $100 million to fund international expansion and develop new products. A lot has changed since then. Nreal has also caught the attention of Chinese tech giants looking to expand into the metaverse.
Today, Nreal announced that Alibaba has led a $60 million investment in the company, according to a report from CNBC. The announcement comes at a time when regulators in China continue to scrutinize the business practices of the country’s technology giants.
The startup will use the fresh capital infusion to increase investment in research and development and accelerate expansion into new markets this year — including China.
Founded in 2017 by Chi Xu and Bing Xiao, Nreal aims to make mixed reality available and accessible to everyone. The startup said it strives to realize the full potential of mixed reality by empowering developers to create applications that can ultimately propel a new era of entertainment, productivity, and more.
Augmented reality (AR) refers to a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. Together with its sister technology, virtual reality (VR), the two technologies serve as the basis for the new metaverse.
So far, Nreal is currently not selling its AR glasses in China yet, but its flagship product, the Nreal Light, has been selling in a handful of markets including Japan, Spain, and South Korea. “China is definitely a huge market, and (we plan) to enter that market next year, and also the U.S .and maybe more countries as well,” Xu said.
Nreal light is a pair of hi-tech glasses and the first lightweight and comfortable mixed reality glasses sporting a vivid display combined with spatial computing algorithms for an immersive experience. Nreal Light superimposes computer graphics over real-world views through a connection to a smartphone.
Below is a video of Nreal glasses in action.