A participant at the MWC Shanghai Exhibition in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, tries on a pair of coral mixed-reality glasses.
Kilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
GUANGZHOU, China – Chinese Enhanced Reality (AR) glasses maker Nrial has raised আন্তর্জাতিক 100 million to fund international expansion and develop new products.
Augmented reality refers to technology that imposes digital images on the real world and is an area where the world’s largest technology companies are investing.
The value of the round of funding is Nreal $ 700 million, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told CNBC. Individuals were not allowed to speak publicly about the assessment.
Nreal declined to comment on the assessment.
Chi Zhu, chief executive of Nrial, told CNBC that the company plans to spend money on research and development as well as expanding its footprint worldwide.
“China is certainly a huge market, and (we plan) to enter that market next year, and so will the United States.
Nreal has not yet launched its AR glasses in China, but its main product – Nreal Light – is retailing in a handful of markets, including South Korea, Japan and Spain.
Nariel Lite is a lightweight pair of glasses that connects to a smartphone. Users can experience so-called mixed reality applications, where digital images are pressed into the real world.
Supporters of the start-up include Neo Capital, an investment arm of the electric car maker, and several major investors, including venture company Sequoia Capital China.
Xu called Neo Capital a strategic investor and saw the possibility of the two companies working together.
“If AR and EV (electric vehicles) are together, it can be very interesting … I can be sure there is something (on the road) there will be more EVs. People will spend more time in their cars, so the combination of AR and cars, which many others Will open up possibilities. “
New product launch
Xu said Nrial would launch a new product next week and would not give too many details before it launches.
However, the CEO said that the new glasses will have a “completely new design” and will be lighter, more comfortable and cheaper than the current Nriel Light model.
“This product can be much easier to enter other markets, such as China and other places, with a lower price point,” Xu said.
The new glasses will still fit on a phone and Xu hopes that the new features will encourage people to use it every day.
Technology giants around the world are getting excited about the augmented reality.
Apple CEO Tim Cook called the AR the “next big thing” and said the iPhone maker was working on a headset. Facebook, Microsoft, Google and other technology companies are also investing in augmented reality.
Xu said he welcomed the Titans’ competition. “I think the best product will win,” he said.
New business model
Nreal’s own operating system is the Nebula that runs on its headset. Like Apple with iOS on the iPhone, developers can create apps for nebulae that people can then use via Nrial headsets.
Having a mandatory app on AR headsets will be the key to their success and is trying to attract Neral developers to Nebula. The company currently has 8,000 developers on its platform.
Apple’s model is based on the fact that it reduces the total sales by 15% to 30% from buying in apps distributed through its App Store. This is how some of its services generate revenue.
But that model has come under fire. Developers are not allowed to charge users for direct in-app purchases. Instead, they had to go through Apple’s in-app payment system. Then the apples will take a cut.
Epic Games, the developer of the hit game “Fortnight”, came up with a legal challenge against Apple in August last year. This month, a judge issued a restraining order stating that Apple could not prohibit developers from providing links or other communications to users who were away from Apple-App purchases.
“We’re seeing a lot of changes with Apple’s business model. With the latest lawsuit between Apple and Epic, people are going to rethink this business model,” Xu said.
“We should give developers a more friendly business model.”
The CEO said it would mean a reduction in commissions that an app store run by Nrial could take. This could mean providing more services to developers, such as marketing and helping them improve their products.
Xu called it a “win-win situation.”
While Nrial is focusing on product and country expansion, Xu told CNBC in an interview in July that the company wants to go public in five years.