Biz / Tech

Metaverse applications developed to explore market potential

Zhu Shenshen
Firms like China Mobile and HTC are exploring functionality and application of metaverse technology ahead of the upcoming WAIC in Shanghai.
Zhu Shenshen
Metaverse applications developed to explore market potential
Zhu Shenshen / SHINE

A visitor is taking a metaverse-style picture on Nanjing Road.

Fireworks on the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, dancing mascots on the walls of the Wukang Building, a pyramid tour in Shanghai's HKRI Taikoo Hui – people can take virtual journeys in Shanghai, a city with a big blueprint for metaverse and artificial intelligence development.

As of Friday, Shanghai opened several metaverse-style landmarks, offering integrated and immersive experiences between digital and virtual worlds. They cover Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, Wukang Building, AI Tower in Xuhui District and Lujiazui skyscrapers in the Pudong New Area.

It's a campaign to welcome the upcoming World Artificial Intelligence Conference, or WAIC 2023, scheduled to open next week, showcasing the latest city digitalization development.

The metaverse-style city landmark tour is "opening the door to the future, mixing reality and digital worlds," said WAIC organizers.

Shot by Zhu Shenshen. Edited by Zhu Shenshen.

People can enjoy metaverse experiences by entering the WAIC mini-program on WeChat, without professional glasses or special devices, Shanghai Daily learned on Friday.

The growing technology, including spatial computing, has fueled metaverse applications, which will be used in more industries like retail and tourism, said Shanghai-based Sight Plus, WAIC's technology supplier for the metaverse-style landmarks.

The campaign is the latest move for Shanghai in achieving its target for its metaverse development blueprint.

Shanghai is the first city nationwide to draft a long-term blueprint for the development of metaverse applications, which connect the virtual and real worlds with advanced tech. The city announced in January to boost the metaverse industry with an expected output of 350 billion yuan (US$50 billion) in 2025.

The core tech for metaverse includes chips, augmented reality or AR, virtual reality or VR, human-computer interaction, digital twins, avatars, cloud and wearable devices.

Also during the ongoing MWC Shanghai 2023, China Mobile announced the launch of a metaverse industry alliance, with 24 firms as the first-batch members including iFlytek, Unity China, HTC and NOLO.

Metaverse applications developed to explore market potential
Ti Gong

During the ongoing MWC Shanghai 2023, China Mobile announced the launch of a metaverse industry alliance.

The alliance members widely cover the entire industry chain as academia, research and funding, focusing on metaverse content production, VR/AR terminals and arithmetic networks. They will share resources, deepen cooperation and issue integrated development.

Metaverse is a new "trillion-dollar track" and a growth engine for accelerating the Digital China strategy and boosting the digital economy, China Mobile's vice general manager Zhao Dachun said in Shanghai.

The alliance founding ceremony was also held in a metaverse world in Migu, China Mobile's multimedia subsidiary, attended by people from other cities worldwide.

The booming wave of metaverse and Apple's release of Vision Pro are expected to stimulate the AR/VR market. VR and AR are key technology adoptions in metaverse, analysts said.

HTC, which joins the China Mobile alliance in Shanghai, has high expectations in metaverse's market potential, especially in business sectors.

Metaverse applications developed to explore market potential
Zhu Shenshen / SHINE

HTC Vice President Charles Huang talks about some of the fastest growing business sectors at an event in Shanghai.

The company, which released new VIVERSE for Business in Shanghai, listed several of the fastest growing business sectors for VR application. They meet demands like remote coordination, which grew rapidly during the pandemic, and training and education, said HTC Vice President Charles Huang.

He mentioned a VR tour of the pyramids making sense for students learning history, Huang said in Shanghai.

In Shanghai's HKRI Taikoo Hui shopping mall, Horizon of Khufu, a 45-minute virtual and interactive show, allows visitors to take a virtual expedition to discover the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, with HTC VR headsets.

HTC has a metaverse-oriented VIVERSE platform. In China, it also offers content on China Mobile's platform, reaching more businesses and consumers locally.

In the coming metaverse development, AI will be deeply integrated with ChatGPT-like features. For example, digital avatars can automatically offer guidance, customer service, and consulting services, which are in product planning at VIVERSE. Meanwhile, blockchain is also expected to be used for digital asset applications in the virtual world, HTC said.

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