Chinese mixed reality glasses maker Nreal is preparing to launch its products in the US and Europe, less than a year after a California court dismissed a lawsuit brought against the company by Google’s Magic Leap.
Why it matters: Nreal is one of China’s most promising MR startups; it is backed by major Chinese tech venture capital (VC) firms and has set up partnerships with global heavyweights, including Qualcomm and Korea’s LG.
- In the US and EU, it will be competing primarily with Microsoft, Magic Leap, and perhaps Apple in the augmented and mixed reality fields, but also with Facebook and HTC in the entertainment-focused virtual reality market.
Details: In partnership with Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s most prominent telecom carriers, the company will launch its Nreal Light MR glasses in the EU in the spring, according to a statement sent to TechNode on Tuesday.
- The glasses will also be available in the US by April 2021, in collaboration with an undisclosed local telecommunications provider.
- Nreal is also launching an enterprise edition of its MR glasses, which users can wear over an existing pair of glasses. The enterprise edition is shaped like a halo, circling the user’s head. Both Microsoft and Magic Leap have already launched their own enterprise-oriented smart glasses.
- The startup is working with automakers, universities, and tourism organizations who want to use the enterprise MR glasses in the workplace, or to offer them to end users.
- Several new apps designed for the smart glasses were revealed at the Mobile World Conference held in Shanghai on Tuesday, including a weather app, games, and a 3D live soccer experience app.
With the initial success we’ve seen with our carrier partners, we’re scaling this strategy and excited to get Nreal Light into the hands of American consumers by April of this year.
—Nreal CEO and founder Xu Chi, in the statement
Context: In fall 2020, Nreal launched its Light MR glasses in Japan in partnership with KDDI, and in Korea with LG.
- Nreal closed a $41 million Series B in September led by TikTok competitor Kuaishou, bringing its total funding to $70 million.
- Other Nreal investors include Sequoia Capital China, video-streaming platform iQiyi—which operates its own VR venture—as well as Shunwei Capital, a VC firm founded and chaired by Xiaomi’s co-founder Lei Jun, and state-backed GP Capital and CCEIF fund.
- The company was accused of stealing technology from Magic Leap in June 2019.