Augmented reality headsets have been around for years, but none of the market players have really moved beyond the tech demographics and broke into the mainstream. An AR startup hopes to change that by partnering with an eyewear brand.
Nreal, the well-funded Chinese AR headset manufacturer that is undergoing aggressive global expansion, said Thursday it has raised $15 million from the parent company of Korean sunglasses brand Gentle Monster, IICOMBINED.
The investment, which came just five months after the $60 million Series C expansion, raises the total to $240 million since its inception in 2017.
The new capital will enable Nreal to accelerate its global expansion and double the company’s consumer operations in the US, the company said.
Neither Nreal nor Gentle Monster said much about how they might work together, but it’s almost certain that one investor’s capital injection marks a step towards a strategic partnership. It should come as no surprise that Nreal’s glasses – which were fashionable and lightweight from the start – would one day hit the shelves of Gentle Master’s worldwide stores.
Indeed, Nreal co-founder Peng Jin said the company’s goal for the next 12 months is to “scale up and reach more audiences and aggressively grow AR technology adoption, starting with our latest release.” AR glasses, Nreal Air.”
Nreal has already built a global distribution network, largely through its business partners such as Qualcomm and LG, in countries such as the US, UK, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Germany. It only debuted in August in China, where it is based.
Nreal’s demand is currently highest in the US, Japan and Korea, although the company expects China to become one of its key markets soon.
Earlier this week, Nreal unveiled a range of its products, including AR glasses such as Nreal Air and Nreal X (Chinese version) and an AR adapter for Apple devices in the domestic market.
“Fashion and design will be important aspects in the future development of AR eyewear as we continue to expand the consumer base in the industry,” said Jin. “As such, having Gentle Monster as our investor will open up exciting opportunities not only for Nreal, but also for the wider AR industry as a whole.”
Gentle Monster, which entered China in 2016 and partnered with Huawei to create smart glasses in 2019, opened its 17th store in Beijing in early August for further expansion in China.
“This investment is exciting for the combination and exploration of the frontier of fashion and technology,” said Gentle Monster co-founder and IICOMBINED CEO Hankook Kim. “We will harness the strength of both parties and work together to create more opportunities.”
This post Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster raises Chinese AR startup Nreal with $15 million funding – TechCrunch
was original published at “https://techcrunch.com/2022/08/25/korea-gentle-monster-china-ar-nreal/”