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London Tech Week

Alibaba-backed AR glasses maker Nreal snaps $15M for its portable movie theater

Photo Credit: Nreal

Nreal, a maker of augmented reality glasses, has secured $15M funding led by Gentle Monster parent firm IICombined. Nreal, based in Beijing, is one of the few companies left from the first generation of AR glasses manufacturers. Additionally, it unveiled the significantly improved Nreal Air glasses in their second generation last year.

The announcement is made at a time when Nreal intensifies its focus on the consumer AR market in an effort to increase the appeal of AR to more users.

The funding follows one led by Alibaba in March that raised $60M. The additional funding will be used to boost R&D spending, quicken the company’s international expansion into new markets this year, including China, and fortify its current collaborations with partners and developers to offer users a wider variety of content and experiences.

“Gentle Monster is a fantastic fashion brand for eyewear with truly inspirational designs. We feel fashion and design will be important aspects in the future development of AR glasses, as we continue to expand the sector’s consumer base. As such, having Gentle Monster as our investor will open up interesting opportunities not just for Nreal, but also for the wider AR industry as a whole,” said Peng Jin, Co-founder at Neral.

“This investment is an exciting try for the combination and exploration for the boundary of fashion and tech. In the future, we will leverage both parties’ strength and make joint efforts to create more possibilities,” said Hankook Kim, co-founder of Gentle Monster and CEO of IICOMBINED.

Tech at play

The Beijing-based company wants to keep developing products quickly at the cutting edge of technology so that it will be prepared with the best one when the AR market takes off. The product is being marketed by the company as a “portable movie theatre.” Nreal hopes to pioneer the use of lightweight AR glasses. Nreal has partnered with more than ten carriers and launched its product in six nations so far. The company claims that since the initial release of Nreal Light, advances in augmented reality technology have increased exponentially.

And as a result, augmented reality technology is now smaller and more portable. The new glasses were created by the company for particular uses like streaming TV shows and playing mobile games. The goal is to develop an immersive experience in a design that can be worn as regular sunglasses.

With the ability to project up to a (simulated) 201-inch virtual display when viewed from a distance of six metres, Nreal Air claims to have the best display of any AR device currently on the market. This display is ideal for viewing multimedia content. The glasses, like the Nreal Light, will continue to be connected to your smartphone. However, compared to many earlier AR glasses, the glasses are about a third lighter and more comfortable to wear.

EV partnership

With the first-ever automotive application, Nreal’s previously announced partnership with electric vehicle manufacturer Nio demonstrates how the AR brand is paving the way forward with creative real-world use cases. Along with that, an almost constant stream of immersive augmented reality app releases.

Since its founding in 2017, Nreal has established a substantial global distribution network, largely thanks to business partners like Qualcomm and LG in nations like the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and Germany. It only made its debut in its home country of China in August.

The U.S., Japan, and Korea currently have the highest demand for Nreal, but the company anticipates China will soon overtake them as one of its most important markets.

Nreal unveiled a number of its products earlier this week, including an AR adapter for Apple devices in its home market as well as AR glasses like the Nreal Air and Nreal X (Chinese version).

Early in August, Gentle Monster opened its seventeenth store in Beijing as part of its ongoing China expansion. The company first entered the country in 2016 and partnered with Huawei in 2019 to produce smart glasses.

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