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Alibaba bets on virtual meetings in the metaverse with AR glasses

DingTalk, the work app developed by Alibaba Group Holding, plans to launch new augmented reality (AR) glasses so users can hold virtual meetings, in the tech giant’s latest move to claim a claim in the metaverse.

The AR glasses will feature self-adjusting optical functions, preventing nearsighted users from wearing additional glasses, Ye Jun, chairman of DingTalk and vice chairman of Alibaba, said Wednesday, as quoted by public media Beijing News.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

The new headset, which incorporates improvements over DingTalk’s previous AR products and makes the workspace more “immersive,” is the platform’s approach to developing the metaverse, Ye said. The official launch date of the glasses remains uncertain.

DingTalk, in collaboration with Beijing-based AR start-up Nreal, launched its first AR glasses in 2020. They featured the DingTalk app, which enabled a “3D virtual meeting room,” allowing users to make presentations. conference calls with a headset. The product is priced at 13,999 yuan (US $ 2,202) at DingTalk’s Taobao store.

Nreal secured a new round of funding last September from investors, including Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital, founder of Alibaba, as well as Nio Capital, the venture capital arm of Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO.

DingTalk, whose user count topped 500 million last October, wants to bring real-life workplace activity to the metaverse with the new gadgets.

“DingTalk will become the point of connection between the digital world and the physical world, especially in the world of work,” Ye said.

The move represents Alibaba’s latest move towards a presence in the metaverse, which many see as the next iteration of the internet, and a hot new concept in the tech industry.

Over the past year, the e-commerce giant has increased its investment in the AR industry, with at least $ 1 billion in funding injected into AR and VR-related start-ups over the past few years. recent years, including the American start-up Magic Leap. .

In addition to its collaboration and outside investments, Alibaba’s own science and technology institution, Damo Academy, is also operating the land.

Its XR lab, which focuses on research and development of AR and VR technology, has developed a system capable of digitizing an offline store and creating a virtual version for display on a mobile terminal, with product information. and even virtual traders.