Alibaba-backed Xreal, rival to Apple’s Vision Pro, claims it’s now an AR glasses unicorn

Xreal Air 2 in action. Xreal’s augmented reality glasses is compatible with gaming consoles and can allow users to play games on a large virtual screen

BEIJING — Alibaba-backed augmented reality glasses company Xreal said Monday it received $60 million in new funding, giving the company a valuation of more than $1 billion.

That valuation gives the startup unicorn status, the first in the AR glasses industry, Xreal claimed. It did not share who participated in the latest funding round.

Augmented reality (AR) technology allows digital images to be imposed over the real world.

Apple‘s Vision Pro virtual reality headset, set for release in the U.S. on Feb. 2, also allows users to see the real world using what the company calls “spatial computing” technology.

Xreal’s latest AR glasses model, the Air 2 Ultra, is set to start shipping in March. It is available for pre-order at $699, a fraction of Apple’s price tag of around $3,500 for the Vision Pro.

On Jan. 8, Xreal said it had shipped 350,000 AR glasses since the company was launched in 2017. That’s compared to 250,000 units as of October, and 150,000 units as of May.

The startup said it plans to use the latest funding for research and development, as well as factory expansion. Total backing from investors has now reached $300 million, Xreal said.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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