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Far from glitzy tech hubs, Chinese city bets big on virtual reality

Updated : 2019-04-28 10:02:09

Liu Zixing craned his neck forward for help with fastening the goggles for his first ever taste of virtual reality (VR). He took a break from the mining ore business to travel to a VR theme park in Nanchang not known for high technology. Hoping to coax homegrown entrepreneurs to take the plunge, the government is educating students, subsidising office spaces, and sponsoring conferences and competitions. Nanchang's VR Star park offers 42 rides and exhibits, including VR bumper cars and VR shoot-'em-ups. It's the highlight of Nanchang's "VR base," a sprawling complex of mostly still empty, futuristic glass-and-steel offices. 

Visitors watch a virtual reality shopping demonstration in a VR exhibit hall in Nanchang, China. The exhibit hall is part of a VR
Visitors watch a virtual reality shopping demonstration in a VR exhibit hall in Nanchang, China. The exhibit hall is part of a VR "base" that includes ones of the largest virtual reality theme parks in the world, sporting 42 rides and exhibits from VR bumper cars to VR shoot-em-ups. It's part of an effort by Beijing to get ordinary people excited about the technology - part of a long-term bet that VR will come into widespread use. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
Visitors drive virtual reality bumper cars in a VR theme park in Nanchang, China. One of the largest virtual reality theme parks in the world has opened its doors in southwestern China, sporting 42 rides and exhibits from VR roller coasters to VR shoot-em-ups. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
Visitors drive virtual reality bumper cars in a VR theme park in Nanchang, China. One of the largest virtual reality theme parks in the world has opened its doors in southwestern China, sporting 42 rides and exhibits from VR roller coasters to VR shoot-em-ups. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
Liu Zixing, a mining ore businessman, right, rides a virtual reality
Liu Zixing, a mining ore businessman, right, rides a virtual reality "gyroscope" in a VR theme park in Nanchang, China. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
A visitor rides a virtual roller coaster ride operated by a robotic arm in a VR theme park in Nanchang, China. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
A visitor rides a virtual roller coaster ride operated by a robotic arm in a VR theme park in Nanchang, China. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
People walk by a giant robot statue at a virtual reality
People walk by a giant robot statue at a virtual reality "base" in Nanchang, China. The city is trying to position itself as a leader in VR technology, opening one of the largest virtual reality theme parks in the world to get ordinary people excited about the technology. It's part of China's long-term bet that VR will come into widespread use. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
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