Enthusiasm for virtual reality has cooled somewhat after years of hype, but China’s leaders are trying to drum up excitement, hoping to take the lead in a technology they expect will eventually gain wide use.
Nanchang’s virtual reality Star park offers 42 rides and exhibits, including bumper cars and shoot ’em ups. It’s the highlight of Nanchang’s “virtual reality base”, a sprawling complex of mostly still empty, futuristic glass-and-steel offices.
Beijing began its VR drive a few years ago, when slick headsets from Samsung, Oculus, HTC and Sony were making a big splash at electronics shows in the US. Chinese leaders were worried they might miss out on a boom.
Virtual reality is included in Beijing’s “Made in China 2025”, an ambitious plan to develop global competitors in cutting edge technologies including electric cars, solar and wind power, and robotics. Nanchang is one of several VR hubs across the country.
The government has provided subsidies and purchases of virtual reality software, mostly focused on education, training, and health care software. Nanchang has a 1 billion yuan VR start-up investment fund, and is setting up another to attract established virtual reality companies.
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