|$100 million—get outta here|
Chinese augmented reality (AR) glasses maker Nreal raised $100 million and will use it for international expansion and development of new products. It has been suggested that the funding values Nreal at $700 million.
The company was founded in 2017 in Beijing, China, by Bing Xiao and Chi Xu (who used to be at Magic leap) and raised $7.5 million in funding from angel investors like former CEO of J.P. Morgan, Bill Harrison, and Joubin Mirzadegan of Kleiner Perkins. Subsequent investors include NIO Capital, Yunfeng Capital, Hongtai Aplus, CPE, GP Capital, GL Ventures, and Sequoia Capital China, and previous raises of $15 million and $40 million. The company built a factory in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, China, which can produce as many as one million units a year.
Nreal released its first model, the Light mixed reality glasses, to consumers a year ago. The company also fought off Magic Leap’s accusation that its founder stole trade secrets to start Nreal.
This fall, the company launched a new model of AR glasses called Air. The new model, like the Light, also uses a phone but is much lighter (77 grams to Light’s 106 grams) and looks more like regular sunglasses than Light. Nreal says it has a better display capable of projecting a virtual screen up to 201 inches. One of, maybe the primary applications, is for watching streaming shows and playing mobile games.
The Air AR glasses have a 46-degree Field of View and use a micro-OLED for the display. It has a high density of color, with up to 49 Pixels Per Degree, and a refresh rate of up to 90 Hz. The Light glasses, in comparison, have a 52-degree FOV and a 60-Hz refresh rate.
One important feature the Light has, and the Air doesn’t, is inside-out tracking. The Air also doesn’t have motion tracking. That is because the company has learned from the way Light was used, Nreal expects most users will use the glasses to watch shows on Youtube.
The Nreal Air AR glasses are expected to compete with Facebook’s Ray-Ban glasses at around $300.