Chinese Vision Pro competitor raises $70 million, doubles down on new consumer approach

BEIJING— The Hefei municipal government led a 500 million yuan ($70 million) fundraising round for Chinese augmented reality glasses and software developer Rokid this week. Near Shanghai, auto and electronics manufacturing hub Hefei has supported electric car startup Nio.

Augmented reality (AR) overlays digital pictures on reality. On Feb. 2, Apple's Vision Pro virtual reality headset will enable users to experience the actual world using “spatial computing” technologies.

Rokid sells consumer AR glasses. In a phone interview Wednesday, Rokid founder and CEO Misa Zhu told CNBC that its collaboration with Hefei will focus on AR for manufacturers.

He claimed Rokid has more than 60% market share in Chinese energy industries and that AR glasses may help with equipment safety inspections and save training time.

Zhu said Rokid may test new AR technologies with industrial clients before lowering its cost and releasing it to consumers since companies worry more about product features than pricing.

Rokid's partnership with Hefei would create a "industrial metaverse headquarters, an ecosystem center and a research and development center,"

Beijing wants to develop innovative manufacturing skills, but geopolitics and labor costs have caused corporations to diversify their supply chains away from China. Rokid promised additional tech developments in the coming weeks. The organization expects AI to have great potential.

"AI plus AR will change people's lives in five to 10 years," Zhu told CNBC in Mandarin. “AI can help you gather and organize data, and AR can display it more naturally

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