By Zheng Shaozhong, Zhou Huan, People’s Daily

The 2023 World Conference on VR (virtual reality) Industry opened in Nanchang, east China’s Jiangxi province on Oct. 19.

Since its first edition in 2018, the VR industry conference has been held annually in Nanchang. During the past five editions of the conference, 562 projects were signed with a total amount of 336.6 billion yuan ($46.05 billion). A national vocational education virtual simulation demonstration training base and the National Virtual Reality Innovation Center have been set up in Jiangxi.

In recent years, with the continuous convergence of quality resources such as VR projects, technologies, talents, and funds, Jiangxi province has been emerging as a prominent hub for the VR industry.

Now, the province is home to more than 400 VR enterprises, and the revenue of VR and relevant industries surged from 4.2 billion yuan in 2018 to 81.2 billion last year.

Jiangxi-based automobile manufacturer Jiangling Motors Corporation Limited, or JMC, has an intelligent 5G factory that produces special purpose vehicles.

“Through innovative applications such as VR inspections, we have achieved automatic equipment failure warnings and reduced inspection time by approximately 30 percent,” said Yan Zongming, general manager of the company that retrofitted the factory.

According to Yan, China Unicom, one of the largest telecommunications operators in China, landed a VR/AR (augmented reality) base in Jiangxi province in 2020, which attracted over 10 relevant companies to settle in. These enterprises are engaged in various fields including software and hardware development, big data analysis and digital twin.

Thanks to this strong ecosystem, the revenue of Yan’s company jumped from around a million yuan when it just started to 21.54 million yuan in 2022.

Jiangxi takes VR as a key industry. It not only promotes integrated development of the industry’s capital chain, innovation chain, and industrial chain, but also strives to promote complementary development between the VR industry and other advantageous sectors, such as electronic information, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data.

In a workshop of Pimax Nanchang, mainly engaged in the production and manufacture of VR headsets, three production line were seen working simultaneously.

Li Jie, vice president of the company, said that optical modules needed by the company are supplied by the Nanchang production base of Ofilm Group, and the company’s VR contents come from Nanchang-based Tellhow Creative Technology Group.

According to him, Pimax Nanchang is thriving thanks to the local VR industry cluster and the sound collaboration among relevant enterprises. The revenue of the company stood at 11.31 million yuan in 2022 and is expected to reach 20 million this year.

In Jiangxi province, VR and relevant technologies are now applied in a number of scenarios, boosting the development of various industries. For instance, students can “repair” a vehicle with VR controllers, and with VR equipment, R&D personnel can significantly improve their work performance and efficiency.

“Learning a skill well requires a lot of practice, and simulation training helps us make up for the lack of hands-on experience,” said Zhou Tao, a student majoring in urban rail transit operation and management at Jiangxi Modern Polytechnic College, who joined a half-month training at the national vocational education virtual simulation demonstration training base in Nanchang.

“Through VR technology, we can familiarize ourselves with the structures of vehicle equipment components in the classroom,” he added.

At present, the base provides training for 26 vocational education courses in nine major categories including equipment manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare. Upon full operation, the base will be able to train 100,000 people each year and bring an enormous market of at least 200 million yuan.

A demonstration agriculture base in Jiangxi province has developed a metaverse online shop that allows customers to “pick” fruits and vegetables on their mobile phones. After customers enter a virtual version of the farm on a mobile application and select the fruits and vegetables they want, robots would pick, pack and then mail them to customers.

“The majority of the research, production, and management for the base’s over 300 mu (20 hectares) of agricultural projects now utilize the metaverse technology,” said Meng Fanming, general manager of the base.

“VR is considered an important gateway technology for the metaverse. After years of development, Jiangxi has initially established a complete VR industry chain with a solid industrial ecology foundation,” said Liao Guoqiong, dean of the VR Modern Industrial College of Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics.

He added that multiple key VR R&D platforms including the Jiangxi Research Institute of Beihang University, Huawei Nanchang Institute, and a VR innovation center of China Mobile have settled in Jiangxi, and this will build more new momentums for Jiangxi’s development.


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