In a bold move signaling its expansion into Europe and the unveiling of its latest products, Nreal, a prominent Chinese augmented reality (AR) glasses manufacturer, has undergone a rebranding and now proudly goes by the name Xreal. The co-founder of Xreal, Peng Jin, shared in an exclusive interview with CNBC that the inclusion of the letter “X” in their new brand identity signifies the company’s ambition to transcend conventional boundaries and venture into uncharted territories of AR applications. Currently, Xreal’s innovative products have already made their mark in several regions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, and South Korea. However, the company has its sights set on conquering European markets and aims to make its grand entrance in the third quarter of this year.
Augmented reality, a technology that superimposes digital imagery onto the physical world, has become a captivating field of investment for the tech industry’s giants, ranging from Apple to Meta. Notably, it serves as a fundamental technology in the development of the much-discussed “metaverse.” Xreal specializes in the production of two sleek headset models, namely the Xreal Air and Xreal Light, both designed to resemble stylish sunglasses. These headsets operate on Xreal’s proprietary operating system called Nebula. Similar to Apple’s iOS for iPhones, Nebula allows developers to create applications tailored for Xreal’s headsets, empowering users to experience a wide array of immersive content.
Upon donning their headsets and launching an app, users are treated to an expansive rendition of the digital content right before their eyes. However, Nebula’s compatibility is currently limited to Android devices, curtailing its overall appeal. To address this limitation, Xreal made an exciting announcement on Thursday regarding the introduction of an innovative device known as the Xreal Beam. Shaped like an iPod, this versatile gadget facilitates both wired and wireless connectivity with smartphones, gaming consoles, and personal computers, ensuring compatibility with nearly any device. This breakthrough widens the accessibility of Xreal’s headsets. The company has set its sights on the gaming realm, presenting a remarkable prospect for gaming enthusiasts. Picture this: connecting the Xreal Beam to a gaming console, such as PlayStation, and indulging in a gaming experience where the virtual world unfolds on a grand virtual screen within the glasses, transcending the confines of traditional TV screens.
Since its commercial launch in the preceding year, Xreal boasts global sales of 150,000 units. Although specific figures were not disclosed by Jin, he expressed the company’s aspirations to witness a substantial growth spurt, aiming to double or even triple their sales in the coming year. Furthermore, Jin revealed Xreal’s intention to secure additional funding. In 2021, Xreal successfully raised $100 million, a remarkable feat that valued the company at $700 million. The Chinese e-commerce titan, Alibaba, demonstrated confidence in Xreal’s vision and potential by investing $60 million in the venture during the previous year. Notably, Xreal has garnered support from esteemed backers such as Nio Capital, the investment arm of electric vehicle manufacturer Nio, and Sequoia Capital China, a prominent venture capital firm.
The realm of augmented and virtual reality has attracted significant attention from major tech players worldwide. Meta has boldly positioned its future around these revolutionary technologies, while reports suggest that Apple is diligently developing its own virtual reality headset. Additionally, gaming giant Sony made waves last year with the release of its second virtual reality headset, the PlayStation VR2. Jin believes that this escalating competition will ultimately fuel the expansion of the AR market, asserting that the involvement of companies like Sony and Apple will draw attention to the sector and attract exceptional talent.