- Chinese augmented reality glasses maker Nreal said Thursday it has rebranded it to Xreal — a name it hopes will capture its expansion into Europe and the latest products.
- Xreal has announced a new device called the Xreal Beam, which it describes as an “iPod-shaped device” that can connect, wired or wireless, to smartphones, game consoles, and computers.
- Peng Jin, co-founder of Xreal, said the company will launch in European markets in the third quarter of the year.
Nreal, the Chinese augmented reality glasses company, has been rebranded as Xreal. Co-founder Peng Jin told CNBC that this reflects the company’s expanded product range and international expansion.
Chinese augmented reality glasses maker Nreal said Thursday it has rebranded it to Xreal — a name it hopes will capture its expansion into Europe and the latest products.
Peng Jin, co-founder of Xreal told CNBC in an interview that the “X” in the new branding reflects that the company is “expanding beyond what we thought possible” and highlights new AR applications. The company, whose products are already sold in the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and South Korea, plans to launch in European markets in the third quarter of the year.
Augmented reality refers to technology that allows digital images to be superimposed on the real world and is an area of current investment for the world’s largest technology companies, from Apple to Meta. It is a key technique in the so-called “metaverse”.
Xreal makes two models of sunglasses-like headphones — the Xreal Air and Xreal Light — that run the company’s proprietary operating system, called Nebula. Like Apple with iOS on the iPhone, developers can create apps for Nebula that people can use via Nreal headphones.
When people put on their headphones and open an app, they’ll see a large version of that content in front of their eyes. But Nebula is only available for Android devices, which limits its appeal. Xreal on Thursday announced a new piece of equipment called the Xreal Beam, which it describes as an “iPod-shaped device” that can connect, wired or wireless, to smartphones, game consoles and computers.
This will allow anyone with almost any device to use a headset. One of the main areas that Xreal is targeting is gaming. For example, you can connect the Xreal Beam to a game console, such as a PlayStation, and then play a game on a huge virtual screen inside your glasses instead of on an actual TV.
Since its commercial launch last year, Xreal says it has sold 150,000 products globally. Jin didn’t give specific numbers, but said Xreal is looking to “double or triple” its sales in the next year.
He also revealed that the company is looking to raise funds. CNBC reported that Xreal raised $100 million in 2021 — which at the time was valued at $700 million — followed by $60 million from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba last year. Xreal has some notable backers including Nio Capital, the investment arm of electric car maker Nio, as well as investment firm Sequoia Capital China.
Augmented and virtual reality is attracting interest from some of the largest technology companies in the world. Meta has pinned its future on such innovations, while Apple is working on its own virtual reality headset, and gaming giant Sony last year released its second virtual reality headset called PlayStation VR2.
Jin said competition will help expand the market.
“When companies like Sony or even Apple start investing in the space, they bring more attention to this general trend, and it will attract more talent,” Jin told CNBC.
But Xreal is operating in an interesting space. His headset can be used with consoles such as the PlayStation, so people can play a game on a huge virtual screen instead of on a TV.
This is not a direct competitor to PSVR 2, which immerses players as if they were in the actual game. But it does raise questions about whether companies might move to block the Xreal device in the future, a risk not lost on Jin.
“I’m not saying that one day these companies won’t decide to build their own AR glasses and decide to ban us. I’m not saying it won’t happen. But there’s a lot more to gain than just banning us,” Jin said. .
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