TCL RayNeo, an AR glasses company incubated by TCL Electronics, announced on March 6 that it had successfully completed the first round of financing of over 100 million yuan ($14 million), led by Fosun Capital and Winreal Investment. The funds will be used for the company’s technological research and development, mass production, as well as the broader market expansion of consumer AR glasses.
TCL RayNeo was established at the end of 2021 with its core teams made up of veterans from tech giants such as Tencent, drone maker DJI, Amercian conglomerate Meta, smartphone maker OPPO, video platform iQIYI, and others. The company has accumulated extensive knowledge in the fields of optical display design, AI algorithm models, and multimodal human-computer interaction.
Last year, TCL RayNeo mass-produced two innovative consumer XR products. According to iResearch Consulting Group, the company occupied 28.4% of the domestic consumer AR glasses market in 2022, ranking first in the industry. At the beginning of this year at CES, the company released its RayNeo X2, a consumer-grade AR glasses based on an optical waveguide route, which made progress in MicroLED full-color display, light engine precision and miniaturization. The device will be officially launched in H1 in 2023.
Market research institutions generally believe that the AR industry shows great potential in the next few years. IDC predicts that the five-year compound annual growth rate of the AR market will reach about 70.3%. China Merchants Securities predicts that the global AR/VR industry space will reach nearly 2 trillion yuan ($289 billion) by 2025.
Nowadays, however, the consumer-grade AR glasses industry is still in its early stages of development. Li Hongwei, founder and CEO of TCL RayNeo, said that all AR glasses makers in the market form a pyramid. The bottom layer of the pyramid is smart glasses that offer display functionality but are not real AR glasses. The second layer is made up of the AR glasses that use a Birdbath scheme and waveguide scheme.
The Birdbath scheme is a touch more mature and has better display effects. It is the most widely used optical scheme at present, but its disadvantages are that it is not lightweight and has poor transmittance. The optical waveguide scheme is light and thin enough, but it is necessary to improve the display’s brightness, yield and productivity. However, functions that better represent the characteristics of AR glasses have been removed, so it is impossible to achieve the integration of the virtual world and the real world. In Li Hongwei’s view, the real AR glasses at the top of the pyramid should take into account four characteristics: smaller sizes, display, all-weather ability, and a combination of the virtual world and the real world.