Nreal,, a Chinese smart glasses startup, announced that it has raised USD60 million in funding led by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which brings the total amount raised by the company in the last year to USD 200 million.
Based in Beijing, and founded in 2017, the startup has had a string of investors, including video platforms Kuaishou and iQyi, in addition to Yunfeng Capital, Hillhouse, Sequoia China, NIO Capital, Aplus, Shunwei Capital, CICC Capital, China Growth Capital and CPE.
In an announcement, the company said that the funding will be utilized for research and development and to accelerate global expansion in its existing markets. These include Japan, the US, South Korea, Germany and Spain which will sell products directly to customers, including home-base China, where the company has previously run pilot programs. The additional funds will also be used to help strengthen existing alliances with developers and other partners, said a spokesman for the company.
In the last few years, Chinese company Alibaba has invested almost USD 1 billion in AR (augmented reality ) and VR (virtual reality) startups, including Magic Leap, based in the US. In an apparent effort to stake a claim in the much-hyped Metaverse, Alibaba launched an extended Reality (XR) Lab to supply technological support in both AR and VR for the ecommerce giant.
In a statement, Nreal has said that it supplies 10 major global carriers with its line of AR glasses. One of the Nreal models started selling in Verizon stores in the US and was sold out on the first day, said a companyspokesman.
Just last month, Nreal unveiled a new line of ultra-thin AR glasses that it sold offline and online. The retailing of the AR glasses was accomplished in partnership with NTT Docomo and KDDI, leading Japanese telecom operators.
Nreal CEO Chi Xu said that the company was excited to see the interest in Nreal’s AR glasses, and the increase in consumer adoption, since users would be able enjoy fun and interactive AR experiences that would enhance their everyday life.
Xu also added that the company was seeing increased interest from companies across various business sectors. According to Xu, these companies were exploring AR as a technology to integrate with their businesses, to provide transformative and interactive experiences.
Nreal also said that it has signed an agreement with Nio to produce AR glasses for electric vehicles (EV’s), which would enter the market sometime this year. The company also said that it was working with Cinedigm, a US-based streaming service, to allow users to watch programs on a massive HD screen, while simultaneously multitasking on up to two virtual screen spaces.
Founded by Jack Ma in 1999, Alibaba has emerged as one of the largest B2B wholesale ecommerce platforms in the world. The Alibaba platform helps sellers and buyers to connect globally, and features a start-to-finish suite of B2B tools to empower users of the platform.