Virtual Reality Equipment In China Allows Users To Enter Virtual Worlds

The total scale of China’s VR industry, including related hardware, software and applications, is expected to exceed 350 billion yuan ($50.3 billion) by 2026.

Virtual Reality Equipment In China Allows Users To Enter Virtual Worlds

One of the most impressive scenes in Ready Player One, a 2018 science fiction film by renowned director Steven Spielberg, is that the protagonist logs into the future world with head-mounted displays and haptic data gloves. In fact, such a fantastic way of seeing, hearing, touching and interacting with a digital world is not far away, as in China, virtual reality VR equipment — which allows users to enter virtual worlds for purposes of gaming, entertainment, education and work — made its debut in Beijing recently.

Dubbed Gates01, users can step onto an area of approximately three square meters, run freely and move in omnidirectional motions to experience digital worlds with a VR headset, vibrating vest, treadmill and motion capture gloves. “To some extent, the future showed in the film is now happening in the country,” said Guo Cheng, founder and CEO of Chinese hardware maker Step VR, which is also the manufacturer of the product.

“As of now, a simple headset may cause motion sickness and vertigo due to an inability to restore the vestibular system’s sense of balance. Compared with most existing VR equipment, Gates01 has made it into five senses in terms of visual, tactile, olfactory, gustatory and aural, which has created a more balanced and immersive experience,” Guo said.

As per the breakthroughs that Step VR has made, China has seen rising investment in VR and augmented reality markets in recent years. China’s IT-related expenditure in the sector hit about $2.13 billion last year, according to market consultancy International Data Corp. It has also predicted that by 2026, China will be the second-largest VR and AR market globally.

“VR and AR are promising in the country thanks to the advancement of consumer-level hardware products and a more abundant content ecosystem created by various manufacturers,” said Claire Zhao, an analyst at IDC China.

Guo from Step VR added that the Chinese company has been gradually launching its innovative products in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, the Middle East, North America and Europe, and launch products for global individuals and families in the first half of next year.

Founded in 2013, Step VR launched an ultra-space free-roam VR esports brand, Future Battlefield, in China last year. In less than a year, Future Battlefield had opened more than 140 stores and gained more than 1 million users as of the middle of this year. “We aim to launch a new VR product, with its size reduced by 50 percent and the weight will be lighter, to easily fit into venues such as homes, gyms and offices for personal use,” Guo said, adding that the goal is to create an immersive VR experience for every user.

In November, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and four other ministries unveiled a plan to boost the development of the VR industry and vowed breakthroughs to be made in key technologies and applications as of 2026. According to the plan, the total scale of China’s VR industry, including related hardware, software and applications, is expected to exceed 350 billion yuan ($50.3 billion) by 2026.

Meanwhile, the country aims to cultivate 100 enterprises with strong innovation ability and industry influence, and boost the sales of VR terminals to top 25 million units, the plan said. In addition to the entertainment sector, VR and AR have been widely applied in a series of industries, including healthcare, education and media in China. In Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital, VR equipment has already been used in endoscopic surgery to remove a brain tumor from a patient.

Wearing VR headsets, doctors successfully and precisely cut out target tissues through a five-centimeter skin incision. The brain’s enhanced 3-D holographic images were projected in real-time upon the patient’s scalp to indicate exact locations inside the brain.

In addition, VR has also played an important role in driving the media industry. During this year’s two sessions, a series of VR products had already made a positive difference to reporters’ tasks. For instance, Leion Pro, a pair of 5G and artificial intelligence-enabled AR and VR glasses, allowed reporters to conduct interviews and livestream them online in real time.

Developed by Chinese smart glasses producer Beijing LLVision Technology Co, the glasses, according to the company, are able to identify faces from a database of 10,000 in 100 milliseconds. “The era of holographic media created by 5G will combine reality and virtuality, from technologies such as VR and AR, voice recognition and facial recognition to technologies related to emotion recognition and emotional computing,” said Yang Qiguang, a professor of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Renmin University of China in Beijing.

“With the support of VR and AR, the integration of intelligence and the media industry will be advanced to a deeper level,” Yang said.

Originally published at China Daily