The virtual reality industry in Nanchang, capital city of East China’s Jiangxi province, is embracing a boom when China ushers in a new era of 5G this year, experts and industry insiders said at the 2019 World Conference on VR Industry, which unveiled its curtain on October 19 in Nanchang.
The conference, held once a year in Nanchang, has attracted more than 300 experts, leading scholars and company leaders from over 30 countries, including the US, Germany, Britain, Russia, India and Israel. During the three-day conference on VR industry, attendees will discuss the development and application of VR in various areas, especially when 5G, the next generation of mobile network, unlocks the potential of VR.
Miao Wei, minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the country’s top industry regulator, said at the conference that after China officially granted licenses for commercial use of 5G on June 6, the co-development of VR and 5G promises a huge market in future.
“China takes the lead in VR innovations. And the wide popularity of the high-tech in our country guarantees a potential market,” said Miao. For instance, the technology has been applied well to this year’s National Day parade live streaming.
There’s no doubt that China is undergoing a boom in VR industry and the boom leader is Nanchang, a city that aims to brand itself as China’s VR engine or hub by starting to build up its VR industry from 2016.
The city has a spacious VR industrial base, where a VR theme park occupying a four-story building offers locals and visitors immersive experiences, spanning from games to films and to pilots training. It also has a VR exhibition center to show the latest development and achievement, a VR innovation center to gather top experts and a VR cloud center to provide cloud computing service, a necessity for VR.
Wang Cuifang, who runs a VR company in Nanchang, feels the boom from the skyrocketing increase of her company’s sales. The number of her employees and orders both doubled in 2018.
“The need for VR application in education and tourism is growing. I also see active performance in related industries, such as 5G and cloud computing service,” said Wang.
In fact, VR technology has permeated various fields in the city, including healthcare, entertainment, sports, media and even pig raising.
According to the local government, since last year, 108 VR-related projects have been inked, with the total investment reaching up to 35.1billion yuan ($4.9b). Big companies including Huawei, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, Microsoft, HTC set up either research and innovation centers or bases in Nanchang.
Guo Ping, rotating chairman of Huawei, said that the high-tech of VR will offer a tailored immersive experience for users, especially the young generation who grow up with “screens”. He added that VR will replace screens in the coming future. Huawei displayed its recently-issued VR glass at a VR expo held together with the conference, which offer users immersive films, games and gem experience. The VR expo in Nanchang has attracted more than 2,000 companies from across the world.
Acoording to Guo, Huawei will cooperate with Nanchang to establish an innovative center in the city’s VR industrial base to exhibit the company’s cutting-edge technology in VR and 5G.
The theme of this year’s World Conference on VR Industry is “VR+5G for a new era of perception”, which indicates that with the speed of internet going faster, VR can impact people’s daily lives.
Hu Xiang, director of VR center of Beijing Institute of Technology sitting in Nanchang’s VR industrial center, said that the wide implication of 5G will enable VR technology to influence people’s life just like what smartphone did.
Hu’s VR center is setting up a giant ball-like installation equipped with high-resolution cameras, which will produce virtual individuals when people stand in the ball and get data of their movement collected.
“Once 5G is widely applied, our project of virtual humans will develop fast,” added Hu.
Liu Qi, Party secretary of Jiangxi, said that videos prevail in the era of 4G, while VR rises in the 5G era. The high-tech of VR will be the first application frontier of 5G, he adds.
“The spring for VR is coming,” said Liu.
According to the government, there’re more than 100 VR-related companies in Nanchang. Last year’s output of the industry in Jiangxi, together with the internet of things industry, reached up to more than 50 billion yuan. It’s estimated by the government that in 2023, the annual output will surpass 100 billion yuan.