Shanghai starts metaverse services at 20 urban spots as part of pilot program
Published: Jan 17, 2023 01:11 AM
Metaverse Photo: VCG

Metaverse Photo: VCG

Twenty urban spots in Shanghai have now become "major metaverse application scenarios," according to a recent announcement from the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization. 

These "metaverse" venues cover seven different social fields such as business operations, education, branding and entertainment with the aim of providing city residents with more "intelligent" public services. 

Ruijin Hospital, affiliated with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, will establish a "metaverse ward" to provide advanced services such as a virtual reality (VR) inspection room for patients. 

Also in the health and medicine field, a "metaverse diagnose system" has been set up at the Shanghai Eye and ENT Hospital, an affiliate of Fudan University, enabling doctors to use 3D remote diagnosis equipment to help patients. 

The use of the metaverse in various fields such as tourism and healthcare is a booming trend in Chinese cities, say industry insiders.

The development of metaverse tech enables citizens to enjoy more personalized services, digital economy expert Wang Peng, a research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. 

Additionally, the expanded industrial chains based on metaverse technical innovation can create more jobs in the city, he noted.

The highlight among the 20 spots is Shanghai's urban landmark, the Oriental Pearl Tower, which has long been a hot tourist spot intriguing visitors all around the world. 

Since 2020, the tower has been working on establishing metaverse-related facilities, operations and souvenirs, Guo Yifeng, general manager of Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower Co, told the Global Times on Monday.

Visitors now can try the tower's interactive facilities, such as one attraction that allows visitors to "fly" above Shanghai's busy Lujiazui commercial area with the help of VR tech, Guo explained.

In 2022, the tower held an augmented reality (AR) light show at the Bund and issued digital collector items such as a set of e-cards with dynamic images and background music. The cards, which sell for 8.8 yuan ($1.31) each, were designed not only as digital souvenirs, but also online discount coupons, Guo said.

These attempts have added new attractiveness and energy to the already renowned tower, Guo said. 

"We hope these new [metaverse] projects can enrich people's visiting experience and make our online marketing more accessible and interesting," he told the Global Times.

Other cases such as turning Shanghai's premier shopping street Nanjing Road into a virtual commercial center that allows consumers to purchase items using digital yuan, shows how Shanghai, China's leading international metropolis, is upgrading itself by embracing future technology. 

Wang predicted that in the following years, the metaverse concept and related technology will be used in more sectors like education.