SHANGHAI – Nreal, a Chinese company that makes glasses for so-called augmented reality experiences, plans to go public within five years, its CEO told CNBC.
“We think this is a really big technology market and we really look forward to what will happen in the next 10 to 15 years. Very exciting – I think it’s more like ’06, ’07 of the smartphone business. ”Chi Xu said Nreal CEO.
“We see a lot of good opportunities and we definitely think the market will be massive. And we have this opportunity and want to use it to the end.”
He said an IPO could be in “less than 5 years”.
The company’s flagship product is lightweight eyewear called Nreal Light, which has been launched in a handful of markets including South Korea and Japan. Nreal says his glasses allow users to experience “mixed reality” where digital images are superimposed on the real world.
The Nreal Light connects to a smartphone. One of the immediate uses is releasing people from being tied to their tiny smartphone screens.
“Whatever you’re putting on the phone screen in front of you, you put it in front of your face, in a giant screen, and it can be 3D, it can be ultra-high definition,” Xu said.
A participant tries on Nreal Mixed Reality glasses at the MWC Shanghai exhibition in Shanghai, China on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Nreal’s ambitions are measured against technology giants who see a bright future in augmented reality. Apple CEO Tim Cook has called AR the “next big thing” and the iPhone giant is reportedly working on a headset. Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and other tech companies are all investing in AR.
But current headsets on the market are expensive and often bulky. Nreal hopes its wearable nature will appeal to consumers. The price varies by market depending on how it is distributed. In Japan, for example, the headset costs around $ 700. In South Korea, however, the device can be purchased through a telecom provider’s plan, which subsidizes the headset at around $ 300.
Nreal has a platform for developers to create apps for the headset’s operating system called Nebula.
“It’s very similar to what Apple did for smartphones,” said Xu. “We provide a platform where people use this for different types of experiences and developers – they can provide and develop different content.”
Not only does Apple make money selling its iPhones and other hardware, but it also receives income from commissions from its App Store.
Nreal has some notable supporters. Kuaishou, the short video platform in China, and iQiyi, a video streaming service, are among the company’s investors. Xu said Nreal would work with both Kuaishou and iQiyi.
“As already mentioned, we don’t just provide the hardware. We want to bundle different services with the glasses. So, for example, record videos, regardless of whether it is a long or a short video. We think the glasses are a much better end device to experience the video, “said the CEO.
“So that’s why we’re going to be working with these giants and really working on the new user interface.”