An attendee tries a pair of Nreal mixed-reality glasses on the MWC Shanghai exhibition in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Pictures
GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese language augmented actuality (AR) glasses maker Nreal has raised $100 million to fund worldwide enlargement and develop new merchandise.
Augmented actuality refers to know-how that permits digital photos to be imposed over the true world and it is an space that the world’s largest know-how corporations are investing in.
The funding spherical values Nreal at $700 million, an individual with direct data of the matter instructed CNBC. The individual was not approved to talk publicly concerning the valuation.
Nreal declined to touch upon the valuation.
Chi Xu, CEO of Nreal, instructed CNBC that the corporate plans to spend the cash on analysis and improvement in addition to increasing its footprint globally.
“China is certainly an enormous market, and (we plan) to enter that market subsequent yr, and likewise the U.S .and possibly extra international locations as nicely,” Xu stated.
Nreal has not launched its AR glasses in China but, however its flagship product — the Nreal Gentle — has been retailing in a handful of markets together with South Korea, Japan and Spain.
Nreal Gentle is a pair of light-weight glasses which connects to a smartphone. Customers can then expertise so-called combined actuality apps, the place digital photos are superimposed over the true world.
The beginning-up’s backers embody quite a few main buyers together with Nio Capital, the funding arm of electrical carmaker Nio in addition to enterprise firm Sequoia Capital China.
Xu known as Nio Capital a strategic investor and sees a possible for the 2 corporations to work collectively.
“Having AR and EV (electrical autos) collectively, that may be very attention-grabbing going ahead … there’s one thing I could be positive (of) is there’s going to be increasingly more EVs on the streets. Folks will spend extra time of their automobiles, so a mixture of AR and the automotive, that may unleash plenty of different potentialities.”
New product launch
Xu stated that Nreal will introduce a brand new product subsequent week and could not give too many particulars forward of its launch.
Nonetheless, the CEO stated the brand new glasses can have a “full new design,” and shall be lighter, extra snug and cheaper than the present Nreal Gentle mannequin.
“This product with a lower cost level, this may be a lot simpler to penetrate these different markets, like China … and elsewhere,” Xu stated.
The brand new glasses will nonetheless plug right into a telephone and Xu hopes the brand new options will encourage individuals to make use of it each day.
International tech giants are getting enthusiastic about augmented actuality.
Apple CEO Tim Prepare dinner has known as AR the “subsequent huge factor” and the iPhone maker is reportedly engaged on a headset. Fb, Microsoft, Google and different know-how corporations are all investing in augmented actuality too.
Xu stated he welcomes the competitors from these titans. “I feel the most effective product will win,” he stated.
New enterprise fashions
Nreal has its personal working system known as Nebula that runs on its headsets. Like Apple with iOS on iPhones, builders could make apps for Nebula which individuals can then use through Nreal headsets.
Having compelling apps on AR headsets shall be key to their success and Nreal is attempting to lure builders onto Nebula. The corporate at present has 8,000 builders on the platform.
Apple’s mannequin depends on it taking usually a 15% to 30% lower of product sales from purchases in apps distributed via its App Retailer. That is the way it generates a few of its providers income.
However that mannequin has come underneath fireplace. Builders weren’t allowed to cost customers instantly for in-app purchases. As a substitute, they needed to undergo Apple’s in-app funds system. Then Apple would take a lower.
Epic Video games, the developer of hit sport “Fortnite,” introduced a authorized problem towards Apple in August final yr. This month, a decide issued an injunction that stated Apple cannot prohibit builders from offering hyperlinks or different communication directing customers away from Apple in-app buying.
“Now we have been seeing plenty of modifications with Apple’s enterprise mannequin. With the newest lawsuit between Apple and Epic, individuals are going to rethink this enterprise mannequin,” Xu stated.
“We must always supply a extra pleasant enterprise mannequin to builders.”
The CEO stated that might imply reducing the commissions that an app retailer run by Nreal can take. It might additionally imply offering extra providers to builders, similar to advertising and serving to them to enhance their merchandise.
Xu known as it a “win-win scenario.”
Whereas Nreal is specializing in increasing merchandise and international locations, Xu instructed CNBC in a July interview that the corporate is seeking to go public inside 5 years.