AR Service Platform (Photo : Getty Images)
China's e-commerce giant Alibaba led a Series B funding round that raised $18 million for AR navigation startup WayRay, which partnered with car manufacturing firm Banma Technologies to develop a new AR navigation and infotainment systems, according to zdnet.com.
The latest funding round brings the total amount raised by WayRay to $30 million, the report said.
The report said that the Alibaba deal came after Intel acquired autonomous car technology provider Mobileye for $15.3 billion.
As a company that develops holographic augmented reality(AR) navigational solutions for connected cars, the Swiss startup had a partnership deal with Banma Technologies, a manufacturer of Internet-connected cars supported by Alibaba and SAIC Motors. The partnership aims to develop a new system that will combine AR navigation, a virtual dashboard and driving assistant notifications.
According to WayRay, its AR heads-up is safer than the traditional navigation system that distracts drivers as the navigation information, traffic data and warnings are all placed on the windscreen.
The report said that one of Banma's 2018 car models will soon have WayRay's AR navigation and infotainment system, called Navion.
WayRay said that the consumer version of Navion will be released later this year as they plan to secure contracts with global car manufacturers to have the system installed in their cars.
It was not the first time that Alibaba has invested in virtual reality and augmented reality, as part of Alibaba acquisition and expansion. During the Singles Day event last year, the e-commerce giant introduced its Buy+, a virtual-reality shopping experience.
Alibaba also led a $793 million funding round for AR firm Magic Leap in 2016. The Florida-based firm is seeking to fast-track the availability of Mixed Reality Lightfield experience.
In addition to this, Alibaba also poured in $15 million into Infinity AR, an Israeli company that has the technology to turn any device into content augmentation platform.
According to Ethan Xie, Alibaba's senior investment director, augmented reality is a potential source of income in a promising industry.
In early 2016, Alibaba also led a $793.5 million funding round in Florida-based AR firm Magic Leap to accelerate the availability of its "Mixed Reality Lightfield experience."
"We will continue to pay attention to the development of leading-edge technology like augmented reality and its application to various industries, like WayRay's AR navigation system in the auto sector," Xie said in a statement.