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Alibaba invests $60 million in augmented reality glasses maker Nreal


March 31, 2022: -On Wednesday, Alibaba led a $60 million investment round into augmented reality glasses maker Nreal; the start-up said hujas Chinese technology giants are looking for ways to get in on the metaverse theme.

Augmented reality technology is imposing digital images over the real world. Users can wear Nreal’s two glasses products, the Light and the Air, to access AR applications such as games or movies.

AR is seen as a critical technology for the metaverse, the latest buzzword in internet technology. While there is no concrete definition, the metaverse broadly relates to virtual worlds that people may work and play in. AR is one way to access that.

Chinese technology giants from Tencent to Alibaba are trying to get in on the metaverse act.

Nreal is saying the $60 million round would increase investment in research and development and accelerate expansion into new markets this yearlude, including China. So far, Nreal has been selling its products in a handful of markets, which include South Korea, Japan, Spain, and the U.S.

The Beijing-headquartered start-up has been attracting a lot of high-profile investors. In September, Nreal disclosed a $100 million funding round and counted Nio Capital, the investment arm of electric carmaker Nio and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China, among its backers. Nreal did not disclose a valuation after Alibaba’s investment, but CNBC reported that the last round in September valued the company at $700 million.

Alibaba’s investment in Nreal could hint toward collaboration between the two, given the start-up’s work with its other investors. For example, Nreal and Nio announced AR glasses tailored for electric vehicles last year.

Alibaba has already announced it is planning to launch augmented reality glasses this year for virtual meetings.

Nreal also said the new cash injection would strengthen existing partnerships with developers and partners “to deliver a wider range of content and experiences” to users.

Internet firms have been more cautious about investing in other companies. Alibaba’s investment in Nreal comes when regulators in China continue to scrutinize the business practices of the country’s technology giants. Tencent, meanwhile, has shed stakes in e-commerce firm and Singaporean tech firm Sea.

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Alibaba invests $60 million in augmented reality glasses maker Nreal