As the metaverse becomes popular, technology companies begin to develop a series of devices that will allow us to interact with virtual worlds. One of these gadgets are the augmented reality glasses made by the Chinese startup, Nreal , which managed to raise $60 million dollars in a round of financing led by the e-commerce giant, Alibaba , which has shown interest in venturing into the metaverse. .
The startup said it will use the money for research and development, as well as expanding into other markets beyond China, later this year. Among the countries in which the brand wants to have a presence are South Korea, Japan, Spain and the United States. Nreal is headquartered in Beijing and raised $100 million in financing last year with support from electric car maker Nio , video platform Kuaishou and streaming service iQiyi .
The bet of Chi Xu , founder and CEO of Nreal, is that in the near future these devices will replace smartphones. Currently there are two different models: Light and Air (both communicate with the smartphone through an application called Nebula ) and in addition to allowing a hybrid experience between the real world and digital elements superimposed on the user’s vision, the lenses can become into personal “screens” to project movies and videos before the eyes of the wearer.
Nreal was founded in 2017.
DO YOU REMEMBER GOOGLE GLASS?
It is not the first time that technology companies have developed augmented reality devices that are worn as glasses. In 2012, Google introduced a device called Google Glass that allowed an interaction similar to that offered by Nreal. After a highly attention-grabbing launch, the first devices went on sale for $1,500. When they began to be used, a controversy arose around privacy issues (the term “glassholes” was coined to describe users who did not use their devices in a socially acceptable way, for example, recording with their glasses what they saw without let people know). Some restaurants have even banned the use of Google Glass among their diners concerned about the privacy of other customers. Little by little the frenzy caused by Google Glass ended up eroding and the project disappeared.
Not only Google has tried its luck with smart glasses. Among the brands that have ventured into this market are Ray-Ban (in alliance with Facebook), Bose, Amazon, JLab Audio, Oakley and not to mention the developers of immersive viewers such as Magic Leap (a company that Chi Xu directed ), Oculus, Meta Company and Vital Enterprises.
With the consolidation of the metaverse, it is possible that more products will appear, as users will begin to look for devices that allow them to interact with virtuality.