The Chinese group Baidu launched Monday, December 27 – in China only – one of the first metaverse applications (contraction of « meta » and « universe », metaverse, in English), this virtual parallel world considered to be the next big leap in the evolution of 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 this its new business project, has gone so far as to rename its parent company “Meta”.
Baidu, nicknamed the “Chinese Google”, therefore took his first steps in the metaverse on Monday during a “metaverse” conference in the presence of his boss, Robin Li, in front of an audience of avatars. The event coincided with the group’s launch of a metaverse app.
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, only available in China, is accessible on mobile phone, computer or virtual reality headset.
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 was on the 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. Tencent, another digital juggernaut, is working on its metaverse platform, backed by its experience in video games, of which it is one of the major players. As for the Chinese e-commerce champion Alibaba, he created a subsidiary to reflect on the various opportunities offered by the metaverse.