Chinese giant Baidu takes its first steps in the metaverse

The group has just launched XiRang, a virtual world that is not expected to be completed for several years.

The Chinese Internet giant Baidu launched on Monday in its country one of the first applications of « metaverse », this virtual parallel world considered to be the next big leap in the evolution of the Internet.

Called XiRang (« Land of Hope »), it allows you to create a digital character (avatar) and interact with other users in a 3D world. The application is accessible on mobile phone, computer or virtual reality headsets.

On XiRang, users are free to move around in the midst of fake natural settings or a fictional city. As in real life, they can visit an exhibition (virtual) or a reproduction of the Shaolin temple – the Mecca of Kung fu – or even practice diving in a digital swimming pool.

Baidu demonstrated its virtual world during the “Create 2021” conference organized within this metaverse. Group boss Robin Li faced an audience of avatars in a virtual stadium. This was a full-scale test for the platform.

The XiRang project was unveiled to the press on December 21. But Baidu clarified that the platform will require at least 6 additional years of development to be fully operational.

The other Chinese giants are working on the subject

The « metaverse » (contraction of meta-universe, « metaverse » in English), is a kind of digital backing of the physical world, accessible via the internet. This concept, which is still in its infancy, should make it possible to free oneself from physical constraints by increasing human interactions via 3D.

The opportunities offered by the creation of a “new virtual world” whet the appetites of digital giants. Facebook, which is making it its new business project, has gone so far as to rename its parent company Meta.

Baidu was planking on this project long before the term metaverse became popular in October after Facebook’s decision to rename its group Meta.

Like Baidu, the Chinese digital giants do not intend to stay on the sidelines of the metaverse. ByteDance (TikTok) has invested in several companies in the sector, including the maker of virtual reality headsets Pico.

Internet juggernaut Tencent works on its metaverse platform, backed by its experience in video games in which it is a major player. As for the Chinese e-commerce champion Alibaba, he created a subsidiary to reflect on the various opportunities offered by the metaverse.

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