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Chinas tech giants establish metaverse research institute the register


COMMENT While Meta has shed billions to bring CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse to life, China has decided that China too will embrace the concept of virtual reality.

In this week reports China’s state-run Shanghai Securities Journal revealed that some of the country’s most powerful tech companies have joined forces to establish the Joint Research Institute of Metaverse and Virtual-Real Interaction in Shanghai.

Participating companies include Tencent, which owns part of most major game manufacturers in China; Huawei, the communications giant known to be a prime target of US sanctions; and Epic Games, in which Tencent holds 40 percent.

Also in the mix are China Mobile’s Migu, as well as top universities like Fudan, Beijing, Renmin, Zhejiang and Nanjing, which have been dubbed “the research co-construction units for the institute,” according to Beijing-based Pandaily news agency reported.

Professor Zhao Xing from Fudan University’s Big Data Research Institute and the National Intelligent Evaluation and Governance Experimental Base was hired as the dean.

According to the Shanghai Securities Journal, Zhao said, “Shanghai has valuable experience in digital transformation and construction, as well as strong support from talent, technology, industry, urban environment and consumption capacity of the metaverses, which are the main reasons for establishing the institute.” in Shanghai.”

China now has its 14th “Five-Year Digital Economy Development Plan” from January, which has resulted in “new digital formats” being “planted across the country,” Pandaily said, with the metaverse being “one of the most important new ones.” Growth points.” Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Xiamen and others are all said to have launched their own metaverse development policies.

Shanghai is at the forefront of this movement, with Metaverse-related industries in the city expected to reach 350 billion yen (US$51 billion), taking the software and information services industry to over 1.5 trillion yen and the electronics manufacturing industry to more than ¥ will drift 550 billion. The Joint Research Institute of Metaverse and Virtual-Real Interaction is also based in Shanghai.

It looks like Meta cut his work out. Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s focus on Metaverse-related activities in October 2021, describing his vision as follows:

Almost a year later, despite the advent of Nvidia omniverse to the digital twins and other work in space, Meta is no closer to curbing the flow of money into the project. reality labsthe division responsible for bringing the metaverse to life reported a $10.2 billion loss in fiscal 2021 after spending $12.5 billion to generate $2.3 billion in revenue .

While it’s not “nail in the coffin” territory for the social network, which made $39.37 billion in net income last year from $117.9 billion in revenue, investors are watching the numbers from Reality Labs Worry, and Meta doesn’t seem remotely close to a working metaverse that people are comfortable spending time in.

Domestic social media companies in China arguably have some advantages over their Western counterparts. For example, the heavily censored but feature-rich Weibo has more users than Twitter and some research [PDF] has found that the former’s user base has a higher level of social reciprocity, meaning more of a user’s followers actually respond when they speak.

The creation of this research institute could mean that Chinese citizens will surf the Metaverse sooner than the rest of us. Though we’re not sure which hellscape we fear more – one bowing to the Chinese Communist Party or one born of the worst excesses of late capitalism.

We reached out to Huawei for comment. ® China’s tech giants establish metaverse research institute • The Register

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.