Shanghai Begins Metaverse Pilot By Introducing Virtual Reality Services In Urban Hotspots

Shanghai Begins Metaverse Pilot By Introducing Virtual Reality Services In Urban Hotspots

China’s largest city has begun the pilot program for its Metaverse project by offering digital services in 20 urban hotspots. The initiative is part of Shanghai’s $52 billion plan to transform into a global hub for the metaverse industry by 2025. 

In 2022, Shanghai, the largest city in China by population, announced a $52 billion plan to turn itself into a global hub for the metaverse industry. As per a document published by the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatisation, the megacity plans to house 10 leading enterprises in the metaverse industry and 100 other companies that provide metaverse-related technologies by 2025.  

The government plans to integrate the sector to the daily lives of its residents by implementing virtual reality experiences into its business, education, healthcare, tourism and entertainment industries. However, the document did not state how the municipal government plans to fund the ambitious program, but it did mention establishing special funds to support metaverse industries, offer investment subsidies, interest discounts, and other incentives that are subject to laws and regulations of the city to support research and development of metaverse technologies. 

Recently, the Shanghai Municipality announced a pilot program to turn 20 different urban hotspots in the city into “major metaverse application scenarios”. The metaverse venues belonging to various social fields, including business operations, education, branding, healthcare and entertainment aims to provide citizens with much smarter services within their facilities. 

In the healthcare sector, Ruijun Hospital, one of the highest rated medical facilities in China, will open a “metaverse ward” that will allow the inspection of patient rooms via virtual reality goggles. The Shanghai Eye and ENT Hospital will set up a metaverse diagnostic system that will enable doctors to use 3D scanning equipment to diagnose patients. 

Wang Peng, a digital economy expert at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, says that the introduction of metaverse has allowed Chinese citizens to experience more personalised services. The use of virtual reality technologies is booming especially in the country’s healthcare and tourism sector. 

The biggest of all 20 metaverse hotspots is Shanghai’s urban landmark, the Oriental Pearl Tower. The 500 metre tall broadcasting tower, which is a major tourist attraction in the city, will allow visitors to fly over the city’s Lujiazui commercial area via a VR experience. Last year the tower held an augmented reality (AR) light show and also issued a set of non-fungible token (NFT) e-cards with dynamic images of the Shanghai skyline that could be used as discount coupons. 

Guo Yifeng, General Manager of Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower Co., said the firm has been working on establishing virtual and augmented reality related facilities, operations and souvenirs since 2020. Guo added that metaverse initiatives have brought a newfound attractiveness and energy to the already famous building. 

Nanjing Road, the premier commercial street of Shanghai, will be turned into a virtual shopping centre in the metaverse where customers can purchase items using the digital yuan, China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC). The city also has plans to introduce fifth generation (5G) data transmission technology and services powered by artificial intelligence to build the ultimate metaverse experience. 

The upcoming industry is being explored by various jurisdictions across the world. In May 2022, the South Korean Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technologies announced a $177.1 million funding program to invest in companies that develop metaverse-related technologies. The government of Dubai introduced the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which will bring several public departments and services into the metaverse. Economic analysts say the metaverse sector is expected to grow into a trillion dollar industry by 2030.

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