Beijing-based tech giant Baidu, Inc. on Tuesday offered a preview of its highly anticipated metaverse world, which will be fully unveiled at Create 2021, a major conference for AI developers on December 27.
Xirang (希壤 Xīrǎng, meaning ‘land of hope’), is Baidu’s answer to a trend that has come to obsess the global tech industry, known as the metaverse. Simply put, the metaverse is the immersive digital reality enabled by today’s pervasive internet, combining social media, online gaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and more.
The firm hopes that its technology can help “make the complex world simpler,” said Baidu Vice President Ma Jie during a media briefing event on Tuesday afternoon. “We also hope that the creation of this world can be made simpler through platforms on the market, so we especially welcome everyone to join us on December 27.”
Baidu’s Xirang is essentially a tightly integrated series of internet services – accessed via an app – that together comprise an expansive and nearly all-encompassing digital realm, to be used for anything from attending business conferences to socializing with fellow users and embarking on virtual tourism.
Upon entering Xirang, users are asked to create their personal avatar by selecting their desired gender, hair style, nose and eyes. Once satisfied, the digital character materializes on the map of Baidu’s metaverse, where they are free to roam and interact with fellow avatars.
Xirang takes the form of a Mobius strip, a physical shape akin to twisting a piece of paper, suggesting infinite space. Among the coveted virtual attractions is Shaolin Temple, the digital rendering of a well-known monastery in China’s Henan Province, renowned for its traditional architecture and martial arts.
Baidu’s iteration of the metaverse will be fully revealed with its Create 2021 conference, to be held on December 27. The firm says that this event, which represents China’s first large-scale event held entirely in the metaverse, “will enable up to 100,000 online attendees to get up close and personal with close to 100 esteemed speakers from around the world at Baidu’s 3D VR conference.”
To participate, users will need to download the Xirang app on their devices, register an account and create an avatar to explore the metaverse on their behalf.
In addition to Facebook’s closely watched developments in the metaverse realm, Pandaily has previously reported on various Chinese firms making similar strides. On December 2, NetEase Cloud Music was listed on the HKEx and its metaverse listing ceremony was held through the Netease Fuxi Immersive Activity System “Yaotai.” Bilibili also started its own Metaverse dream and is testing “UPowerchain,” a metaverse-related business.