AR-glasses maker Rokid closes $112M round to expand metaverse products

Hangzhou, China-headquartered augmented reality glasses maker Rokid Inc. today announced that it has closed a strategic investment round led by NetDragon Websoft Holdings Ltd., bringing its Series C funding round to $112 million.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the cash infusion from the newest investor NetDragon brings the valuation for Rokid to $1 billion. The company will use the new funds to expand its reach overseas. Misa Zhu, founder and chief executive of Rokid, said the pandemic thwarted the company’s expansion plans, but the new investment and partnership will put that journey back on track.

NetDragon specializes in education and massively multiplayer games, with a focus on what are called “metaverse” technologies, which are highly immersive 3D spaces where users can interact, work, shop and play. This technology dovetails tightly with AR as it overlays holographic computer-generated graphics onto the real world, creating “mixed reality” experiences that allow people to interact with computer environments for education and gaming.

Founded in 2014, Rokid develops augmented reality glasses and a fully open-source artificial intelligence voice interactive operating system YodaOS. The company released its first voice interaction product in 2016 and has since built up a large portfolio of AR glasses aimed at the industrial and consumer clientele.

Rokid’s consumer product line includes AR glasses such as the Rokid AR Joy, which are a lightweight consumer edition that make for flexible entertainment and work experience creating a floating screen directly in front of the user’s eyes. The glasses don’t operate in true AR, or mixed reality, where they can affix holograms onto the world, but instead provide a monitor-like experience for users.

For industrial users, Rokid produces robust AR glasses for indoor and outdoor use that allow software to provide assistance such as AI-powered smart inspection and allowing remote collaborators to draw onto the view of workers in the field. The company also makes lightweight AR glasses for field services and logistics technicians and healthcare workers that use gesture and voice controls to bring in remote collaborators.

The two companies agreed to form a five-year partnership agreement as part of the funding announcement that will have the companies build next-generation interactive metaverse experiences using hardware and software expertise using Rokid’s technology and NetDragon’s expertise in internet and mobile platforms.

“We see AR becoming a key channel for users to interact in the metaverse, and will significantly broaden the number and variety of use cases, especially in education and gaming,” said Dr. Simon Leung, NetDragon Group vice chairman and executive director. “Our partnership with Rokid will open up opportunities for us to design products with a new level of user experience with the application of AR technologies, and at the same time accelerate our go-to-market for our AR-enabled product offerings.”

Metaverse technologies that mix both the real-world and computer-generated elements have been put to use in numerous cases such as training industrial workers. They can work on virtual equipment, assisting workers in the field by displaying helpful guides overlaid in their vision while working on real equipment. They can also bring in remote collaborators who can see the same point of view as field technicians.

“We look forward to working with NetDragon to expand our opportunities by leveraging their knowledge and know-how in education and gaming, as well as their global sales network,” said Zhu. “We believe that the combination of NetDragon and Rokid will bring new momentum in product development and breakthrough innovation to the industry.”

Image: Rokid

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