XR industry boasts broad space for growth in China

Students wear VR glasses in class at a primary school in Ganzhou, east China's Jiangxi province, Nov. 26, 2020. (Photo by Hu Jiangtao/People's Daily Online)

Statistics show that the market value of global extended reality (XR) industry has exceeded $20.4 billion.

XR, an umbrella term encapsulating virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR), refers to real-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by wearable devices and computer technology.

As XR technologies become more mature, they have been gradually applied in more scenarios that are closely related to the daily life of ordinary people, and seen new consumer markets in recent years.

China’s Spring Festival Gala this year, which was broadcast live in Beijing on the evening of Feb. 11, or the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, adopted XR technologies, and enabled singers from China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Taiwan region who couldn’t be present at the gala give performances remotely.

Thanks to XR technologies, performers were able to interact with stage props in virtual reality scenes perfectly, according to Xia Yu, deputy general director of the Spring Festival Gala.

Xia cited the example of Chinese singer Jay Chou, who brought an audio-visual feast to audiences across the country at his studio in Taiwan during the gala.

The application of XR technologies has made it possible for users to “travel to the past” and “wander in the universe” through virtual trips.

An XR experience store in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province, recently launched a program for citizens, which involved digital tours to the Jurassic period and outer space.

With in-depth integration of XR technologies and on-site LED display scenes, aerospace enthusiasts can “come into contact” with satellites flying in orbit tens of thousands of kilometers away from the Earth, while jungle adventurers are able to “go back to the Jurassic period” and “meet” prehistoric dinosaurs in dense rain forests.

XR technologies have also been integrated into the application scenarios concerning smart tourism projects.

XR technologies can help tourist attractions launch systems that enable visitors to better learn about faraway places and remote times in immersive scenes, as well as tourist guide systems and other systems that bring wonderful experiences to visitors through terminals such as VR or AR glasses, mobile apps and browsers, said an executive of ESCHER, a provider of XR smart travel solutions based in China.

Compared with offline tours, scenarios reproduced by XR technologies can enrich the experiences of users, the executive added.

XR industry is full of possibilities, and the thriving 5G technology is considered a catalyst for further stimulating its potential.

Last January, the branch of China Mobile, a major Chinese telecommunications operator, in Zhengzhou, central China’s Henan province, built the province’s first 5G+XR commercial complex in a shopping mall.

By innovatively integrating 5G with XR in games, panoramic live-streaming shows, and VR displays, the mall provides consumers with controllable and interactive shopping live-streaming shows with 8K resolution, and immersive shopping experiences, injecting new impetus into the digital upgrading of commercial complex.

Industry insiders pointed out that with constant progress being made in the large-scale deployment of 5G network and its innovative applications, the “5G plus XR” model is producing a large number of new application scenarios including social networking, office work, entertainment, exhibition and education, which will provide broad development space for the XR industry.