“The world’s martial arts, only fast not broken.”
As domestic mobile phone manufacturers have joined the war, AR glasses market presents a lively scene. According to rough statistics, there are more than 30 AR & Mr glasses products (including announced prototype products) released or listed this year. A frenzy belonging to AR is sweeping through.
Countless giants and start-ups have poured into the AR battlefield, trying to get a piece of it. From obscurity at the beginning of the year to now famous at home and abroad, nreal, a start-up company, has established its own barriers and become a real dark horse in just one year.
(AR referred to herein covers MR)
Although the word “the first year” has long been tiresome, the author believes that 2019 is called the first year of AR.
This year, more than 30 ar products have been announced or listed. In addition to large technology enterprises such as Microsoft, Google, Lenovo, oppo, vivo and Epson, Japanese QD laser, baesystems, the UK’s largest arms supplier, AR optical waveguide manufacturer waveoptics, automobile enterprise BMW and other companies have also announced new products or product prototypes.
On the one hand, technology and traditional giants have entered the market one after another. On the other hand, start-ups are also running step by step, closely following the wind. Startups such as nreal, dreamworld, rokid, Yingchuang technology, Pacific future technology and 0glasses have successively launched new ar products this year.
Facebook, apple and Huawei, which are ready to launch, also disclosed the news that AR products are about to be launched or planned.
2019 belongs to ar.
From 2015 to 2018, the market scale of the global ar industry showed a fluctuating upward trend. According to IDC data, in 2018, the shipment volume of AR / VR market was about 8.9 million units, of which ar equipment accounted for 8.2%; Meanwhile, according to the data disclosed by the China Academy of communications and communications, the global augmented reality industry market scale in 2018 was about 10 billion yuan, an increase of 6.04% over the previous year.
Since last year, AR has shown a “budding” trend. According to the 2018 VR / AR financing report released by VR gyro, the number of AR related financing in a year is second only to the application category of VR industry, accounting for more than 20%.
In 2019, AR related financing increased all the way. By mid November, the amount of relevant financing had reached nearly 9 billion yuan. This year, almost all domestic ar startups have obtained financing, ranging from tens of millions to hundreds of millions.
In 2019, 5g officially entered commercial use. As the most important scenario, VR / AR has been mentioned in numerous 5g related white papers. It is 5g that accelerates the pace of AR entering the market.
According to IDC, by 2022, the overall shipment of AR / VR will reach 66 million units, of which ar products will account for about 40% of the AR / VR market. With the maturity of AR technology and the decline of AR product unit price, the global ar market will grow at an average annual compound growth rate of more than 69% in the future. By 2024, the market scale of the global augmented reality industry will reach 287.2 billion yuan.
Regardless of whether these predictions will be “beaten in the face” in the future, today’s ar trend has come. In this magnificent army, nreal, a start-up company, is “attacking cities and land” at home and abroad.
Nreal’s road of “attacking cities and seizing land”
In 2017, nreal was officially established, with a total financing amount of US $31 million. After obtaining millions of dollars of angel round financing in 2017, two rounds of financing were obtained in just a few months in 2019 – $15 million a round and $16 million a + round. The investors include iqiyi, Hongtai fund, Shunwei capital and other well-known companies.
Xu Chi, its founder, believes that 2016-2017 is the best window for entering ar entrepreneurship. Once missed, it may really be missed. In its view, Mr glasses are the last screen that humans need before brain chips are implanted.
Launch new products and combine strong with strong. In 2019, nreal has ushered in rapid development as if it had driven into the fast lane.
Experience driven, product first
The beginning of everything must be based on an excellent product.
In May this year, nreal’s first Mr glasses product, nreal light, was officially launched, and the price was announced to be $499. As the first glasses form product connected to mobile phones, nreallight, which looks like ordinary sunglasses and light and fashionable, soon became the focus of science and technology circles at home and abroad.
Nreal light adopts a split design, which can be connected to Qualcomm 855 and above mobile phones as an operation carrier or control handle. The glasses support inside out positioning and tracking, and can realize 6DOF movement of head and hand.
The optical part adopts the composite light guide scheme, with a single eye resolution of 1080p, and the display effect is bright and clear; The diagonal field angle reaches 52 degrees, which can watch the giant screen effect.
The weight of the equipment body is only 88g, and the shape of glasses is lighter and thinner than the common head wearing type in the market, which is more suitable for wearing for a long time.
In the process of product R & D for more than two years, nreal light has gone through 7 large version iterations and countless small updates, and finally reached its current form. The almost harsh attitude towards products made the world focus on the team’s products for the first time.
“Nreal’s glasses promise an experience close to that of a Magic Leap headset， albeit with a much more compact form factor， and a substanTIally cheaper price tag．”——Variety
Nreal’s glasses provide a similar experience to magic leap, but it is more compact (compact) and cheaper.
“The visual quality was surprisingly high for a light and unobtrusive device．”——The Verge．
For this lightweight and unobtrusive device, the visual quality is surprisingly high.
After its launch, nreal light not only received high praise and attention from well-known media at home and abroad, but also won awe “best inShow” award.
Small steps, fast running, fast trial and error
The reason for choosing a split form compatible with smart phones is very simple – making it easier for MR to reach users. Based on the huge base of smart phones, the rapid landing of AR glasses becomes possible. According to qunxi consulting data, the global mobile phone shipment in 2018 was about 1.82 billion, including about 1.37 billion smartphones. It is estimated that the global smartphone sales in 2019 will be about 1.36 billion.
“Small steps, fast running, fast trial and error” is the overall rhythm of the team’s products.
The reason why the product can iterate so quickly comes from two aspects. On the one hand, it benefits from Xu Chi’s experience in NVIDIA – industrial product thinking. In his opinion, choosing the right product route and completing the transformation from research to product requires a lot of experience, and the product thinking and rigor of the industrial community are lacking in the academic community.
On the other hand, it comes from the “hard work” of the team “Due to the general environment of domestic Mr industry and the shortage of core technical talents, it is not easy to find relevant talents, but Xu Chi still quickly established a strong core team after the establishment of nreal, covering optics, algorithm, design, structure, hardware, marketing, etc. the scale of the company has also developed from a few people in the initial incubator to more than 100 people today.
Look around the world and size up the situation
When most companies still focus on the domestic market, nreal seems to have firmly established the goal of globalization since its establishment, and has made dazzling achievements in just one year.
1. Cooperate with many operators at home and abroad to explore 5g + Mr application scenarios
In 2019, 5g networks will be launched in the global business one after another, and a new round of scene competition has begun. VR / AR has become one of the best application scenarios of 5g networks, and operators play a vital role in this round of VR / AR upsurge.
Almost all the three major domestic operators have launched AR / VR related initiatives. For example, China Unicom launched 5g + VR open platform; China Mobile has released VR cloud solution and “he · cloud VR”; In September this year, China Telecom and Huawei jointly held a cloud VR product conference to jointly formulate cloud VR standards and accelerate the commercialization of cloud VR technology and business model innovation.
In the next 2-3 years, operators will become one of the main promoters of VR / ar. Considering the importance of this channel from the perspective of smart phones, according to the report on analysis and prediction of China’s smart phone market and development prospects in 2017-2022 released by Zhiyan consulting, the channel of operators accounts for 25% of the retail format structure of domestic mobile phone physical channels. Overseas, according to media reports, the channel proportion of operators in the European mobile phone retail market has reached 50%, other offline retail accounts for 40%, and online retail accounts for only 10%.
In just one year, nreal has established cooperation with domestic and foreign operators such as China Unicom, China Mobile, China Telecom, Japan KDDI, Korea LG U +, Swiss operator Swisscom and so on. Since nreal light can be connected to 5g mobile phones, it has also become a “necessary” collocation for many mobile phone companies to release 5g products.
On April 10, at the oppo Reno 5g mobile phone press conference, Swiss operators Swisscom, oppo and nreal cooperated to jointly promote the landing of 5g commercial equipment and 5g applications. On the site booth, users can experience the real-time and smooth Mr content supported by Swisscom 5g network, Reno 5g device and nreal light through cloud streaming media;
On August 31, ZTE, the first 5g flash store in China, was located in Beijing’s colorful city × “China Mobile 5g tide scene”, using ZTE’s axon 10 Pro 5g mobile phone combined with real light Mr glasses, users can experience Mr games and movies under 5g network;
Since November, China Unicom has cooperated with nreal to display, demonstrate and promote the XR of 5g experience center. The demonstration site will cover 400 offline stores of China Unicom, which is expected to radiate more than tens of millions of Chinese consumers. Bring the new use mode of connecting nreal light Mr glasses to mobile phones to the majority of Chinese consumers and accelerate the landing of 5g + XR products;
In November, nreal announced that it had reached a technical cooperation with Japanese telecom operator KDDI, and the “nreal light” originally designed by Au was also unveiled for the first time. At the same time, both parties also participated in the experience activities in the exhibition area of “smart glasses experience 5g ar Museum -” together with Toppan Printing. KDDI will display 5g experience scenes in several direct Stores – video viewing and Mr experience with smart glasses nreal light;
On November 21, South Korean operator LG U + announced a strategic cooperation with nreal. Starting from March 21, LG U + will set up 5g + Ar experience areas in 5 flash stores and 35 offline business halls to connect nreal light with 5g smartphone “v50s thinq” to obtain Mr experience;
In November, EE, the largest communication operator in the UK, used nreal light to let users experience the live broadcast of the world’s first AR concert based on 5g network;
In December, Japanese communication operators KDDI and nreal announced that on December 9, they officially launched the “nreallight” developer plan – “eve2020” for Mr glasses to provide developers with Mr glasses for R & D;
In December, nreal and Deutsche Telekom demonstrated the prototype version of fieldadvisor, a Mr industry application solution based on nreal light, a spatial computing solution for remote field services.
2. Partners work together to promote the landing application of Mr
In addition to operators, nreal also worked with Qualcomm, ZTE, black shark, iqiyi, Netease AR, DTS and Mason & Joseph to promote the implementation of 5g and AR applications.
At the GDC held in March, nreal established cooperation with Netease AR and announced the joint launch of Mr version of YUME.
In May, iqiyi and nreal announced their cooperation at iqiyi World Conference. Relying on their respective advantages, the two sides will bring users a new immersive entertainment interactive experience by deeply integrating iqiyi’s self-made holographic content with nreal’s MR smart glasses terminal. In the holographic MV experience displayed on site, the audience can freely enjoy the content of the performance stage from any angle and distance, and have “zero distance” contact with the idol.
In June, at the “5g + XR strategic pioneer cooperation launching ceremony” in Shanghai, nreal announced that it had reached cooperation with ZTE mobile, Qualcomm and Netease AR (Yixian advanced) to actively build a new 5g ecology. Based on their complementary advantages, Sifang effectively integrates Mr glasses, 5g mobile terminal, 5g communication technology and AR content to bring users a better Mr experience.
In August, on ChinaJoy, nreal cooperated with DTS, an American acoustic company, to jointly demonstrate the MR game experience integrating DTS multi-channel sound effects. Based on Red Devils 3 and Rog game phone 2, equipped with DTS: X ultra technology, it can realize a 4D game environment and bring a more immersive experience.
In November, at the Xiaomi booth of the first “world 5g conference”, black shark mobile phone and nreal jointly displayed and launched the MR fighting game, which was controlled by the two wing handle of black shark mobile phone 2, coupled with nreallight’s object recognition and image tracking technology, so as to integrate the virtual characters in the game with the real environment and bring immersive game effects.
3. The C-end and b-end grasp with both hands to help Mr glasses become a productivity tool
Although nreal initially positioned at the C-end, it did not limit itself to the C-end market. On the one hand, operators and mobile phone manufacturers reach C-end users and explore the user’s use scenarios. On the other hand, they are also focusing on the layout of b-end enterprise applications.
Xu Chi once mentioned that for consumers, use scenarios are divided into two aspects, such as movies, lightweight games, social applications, shopping and similar activities. The other is productivity. For example, after wearing glasses, users will have a complex 3D model in front of them, which they can cooperate with, and so on.
The launch of Mr field service remote assistance solution fieldadvisor in cooperation with Deutsche Telekom is the first step for nreal to officially enter the b-end market.
The application takes the mobile phone equipped with Qualcomm chip as the computing unit and control carrier. The field service personnel wear nreal light and use the arfieldadvisor application to seek remote assistance and technical support with technical experts in real time. Rear technical experts can also maintain a unified perspective with on-site operators through the front camera on the eyes of nreal light, understand the on-site situation in real time, and assist in solving on-site problems through voice, spatial interaction and other means.
According to the global expenditure guide for augmented and virtual reality published by IDC, the AR / VR use cases with the fastest expenditure growth in the forecast period 2019-2023 are laboratory and field teaching (Preparatory) (CAGR 190.1%), laboratory and field teaching (K-12) (CAGR 168.7%), and field assembly and safety (CAGR 129.5%). From the perspective of expenditure in 2023, the compound annual growth rate of training is 61.8%, which is expected to become the largest use case.
At present, AR is still in its infancy in the C-end market, but the penetration rate of the enterprise market is increasing year by year. There are relevant cases in military, education and training, industry, manufacturing, medical treatment, culture, tourism and logistics. This huge market is still a blue ocean to be explored.
4. Support developers and establish developer ecology
Content is the top priority of VR / AR development. Compared with VR, there are significantly fewer ar content developers, especially the content specifically for AR glasses. Therefore, most companies choose to share the content ecology on mobile phones first.
This is also part of the nreal strategy, but to get a better experience, it must be customized for hardware development.
For developers, it provides a complete developer kit, including a nreal light glasses, a 3DOF controller and a computing unit equipped with Qualcomm 845 solution, which costs US $1199 (domestic price: 9699 yuan).
In addition, it also launched the nreal light SDK to provide necessary tools in the development process, such as spatial computing, real-time rendering, human-computer interaction, etc. the SDK supports both androidnative and unity development environments.
In order to quickly fill the content vacancy on AR glasses, in just a few months, it has accumulated more than 3500 registered developers at home and abroad, covering b-end and C-end content. Overseas content partners include arvizio, nextvr, etc. the first 28 content partners in China are sandmanstudios, Yixian advanced technology, datamesh, Tuomeng Technology, Jingteng information technology, vision + Ar, one foot vision, Internet star dream Magic vision interaction, Lanting digital, alloy cat interaction, magic AR, tentacle technology, all things, Youqi network, Huluobo, unlimited light and shadow, Xigu video technology, ultimate technology, Jiying culture, lianeven technology, Michi technology, mirage technology, imperfectcircle, ruifushi technology, mega power, PAM technology and coal car studio.
Since late November, the nreal light Developer Suite has been officially pre sold and shipped continuously. Recently, many positive feedback has been received from global developers. Overseas developers have expressed a positive attitude towards the development content of the platform.
Sudden litigation, nreal was pushed to the cusp
Looking back on the year of nreal, it was like opening and hanging up. However, it also encountered ups and downs.
In June this year, a sudden lawsuit pushed nreal to the cusp of the storm, and the prosecution is the global high-profile ar “Star” company magicleap.
Magic leap’s first generation products were launched this year. Although it received more than $2 billion in financing, it was frequently questioned, leaving the company, selling patents and layoffs.
In June, magic leap filed a lawsuit to the local court, accusing Xu Chi, founder of nreal, of using magic leap’s confidential information to quickly develop his own Mr glasses nreal light, violating the contract, fraud and unfair competition.
Nreal responded positively to magicleap’s allegations.
“These accusations without any factual basis and evidence have obvious subjective conjecture and bias, go beyond the reasonable boundary of business competition, and greatly damage nreal’s good reputation and vital interests.”
Recently, nreal announced that it had filed a request to the federal court to reject the false allegations of magicleap. It believed that these groundless allegations were intended to hinder the rapid development of nreal.
The case is still under trial. It is said that the two sides will hold the first case management meeting in California on January 15, 2020.
Regardless of the final outcome of the case, it can be seen from this event that Chinese ar start-ups have gone abroad and established a certain influence in the global market. It is an indisputable fact that nreallight products and technologies have attracted the attention of the international market.
In the MR market with many giants, nreal worked step by step according to the rhythm of small steps and fast running, and handed over a brilliant report card.
With the development of 5g and AR technology, more giants will pour into the AR track in the future, and there will be another cruel reshuffle. What startups need to do is to quickly use their own advantages to establish barriers, recognize the direction, and go on firmly and calmly. I also look forward to this dark horse, which will bring more surprises in the future.
Nreal and nreal light will participate in CES International Consumer Electronics Exhibition held in Las Vegas on January 7, 2020 to show games, smart home and Mr shopping experience developed with Mason in Japan. More big news will be announced at that time. CES booth: South Hall 1, #20930.