Why Alibaba backed AR glass maker Nreal in its $60M funding round?

Nreal
Image credits: Nreal

Nreal, a Beijing augmented reality startup, announced that it has secured $60M in a Series C extension round led by e-commerce giant Alibaba. To date, the company has raised total funding of $260M.

How will the funding be used?

The funding will enable the company to increase investment in R&D, accelerate its global business expansion and strengthen its existing partnership with developers and partners.

Alibaba invested in Nreal after announcing its plan to launch augmented reality glasses this year for virtual meetings.

As consumer AR glasses are projected to reach millions of install base by 2024, video consumption is thought to be one of the first mainstream use cases for AR glasses.

The unlimited virtual space and multi-dimensional display enabled by AR glasses allow content and service providers to re-imagine the video-watching experience.

Ready-to-wear mixed reality glasses

Founded by Magic Leap veteran Chi Xu in 2017, Nreal is the developer of ready-to-wear mixed reality glasses.

With this platform, the company plans to develop next-generation user interactions with hardware and software solutions that merge the physical with the digital world. The company aims to make mixed reality available and accessible to everyone.

Its flagship product, Nreal light, is the first lightweight and comfortable mixed reality glasses, sporting a vivid display combined with spatial computing algorithms for an immersive experience.

The Chinese company aims to realise the full potential of mixed reality by empowering developers to create applications that can ultimately propel a new era of entertainment, productivity, and more.

To date, Nreal has established partnerships with more than 10 world-renowned carriers and brought its product to 6 countries to date.

According to Venturebeat, the company has designed new glasses, particularly for specific applications such as streaming TV shows and playing mobile games. However, the company hasn’t disclosed the exact tech details, but Nreal said Nreal Air boasts the best display on the market available for any AR device.

Moreover, the company said glasses will be connected to a smartphone just like other glasses. But the glasses will be lighter and more comfortable to wear than many previous AR glasses, Xu said to VentureBeat.

The device is expected to feature a micro-OLED display with as many as 49 pixels per degree (PPD) and a 90Hz refresh rate. The first glasses debuted in South Korea, Japan, and Europe.

Besides Alibaba, the company is backed by other key investors including Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia China, Hillhouse, NIO Capital, Aplus, CICC Capital, Shunwei Capital, CPE, China Growth Capital.

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