Alibaba has made a significant foray into augmented reality (AR) through a $60 million investment in Nreal, a Chinese start-up specializing in AR technology. This move by Alibaba is considered its first step into the metaverse, the virtual parallel world that is predicted to be the future of the internet.

While the concept of the metaverse is still in its early stages, it has the potential to revolutionize our interactions with the digital world. By creating a virtual “new world,” the metaverse aims to eliminate physical constraints and enable immersive 3D human interactions.

Nreal, known for its AR glasses, announced the investment from Alibaba on Wednesday. The funds will primarily be used for research and development. In recent months, Nreal has also raised an additional $200 million from other investors.

Although Alibaba’s investment may seem relatively small compared to its overall size, it is a significant milestone as it marks the company’s entry into the metaverse landscape. Last year, Alibaba established a dedicated subsidiary to focus on this emerging technology, demonstrating its keen interest in the concept.

Both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality are key technologies for the metaverse and have been gaining traction in China’s digital sector. ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has invested in several metaverse-related companies and acquired VR headset manufacturer Pico in 2021. Internet giant Tencent is also developing its own version of the metaverse, leveraging its experience as a leading player in the video gaming industry. Additionally, Baidu, the Chinese search engine, launched XiRang, one of the country’s first metaverse apps, in December.

China’s digital leaders are encouraged by the government’s support for the tech sector. However, they are treading carefully in the metaverse space, considering State media’s warning against extravagant investments in this area.

Meanwhile, the digital tech sector in the United States is eagerly anticipating the possibilities of the metaverse. Facebook, in particular, has made it their top priority and even renamed their parent company as Meta to reflect this new focus. With its substantial resources and user base, Facebook aims to shape the future of the digital world through the metaverse.

As the metaverse garners attention and investment from major players in the tech industry, it is evident that this concept has the potential to redefine our interactions with the internet. Alibaba’s investment in Nreal demonstrates the e-commerce giant’s determination to be at the forefront of this virtual revolution. The future evolution of the metaverse and the opportunities it will bring are yet to be fully realized, but one thing is certain – the race to dominate this new digital frontier is well underway.

Useful links:
1. Nreal: Official website of Nreal, the Chinese start-up specializing in AR technology that received a $60 million investment from Alibaba.
2. Meta by Facebook: Explore Facebook’s vision and efforts to lead in the metaverse space, as reflected in the rebranding of their parent company.