Sat, 21 May 2022

BEIJING, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- A 3D metaverse show will offer visitors a unique and thrilling experience when touring a steel mill repurposed into a cultural and sports complex in suburban Beijing that will soon host some of the world's top athletes in the coming weeks.

Hailing a pilotless minibus and shuttling through the rusty, out-of-use steel furnaces and brand-new ski jump venue built for the upcoming Winter Olympics, one can drop by a spot called Sangaolu, which literally means the "Third Shaft Furnace," in Shougang Park.

The 107-meter-tall furnace with an 80-meter-wide cone base and diagonal iron coal conveyor belt running down from the top of the structure has been utilized as the backdrop for an augmented reality show.

Holding a cellphone or tablet installed with the Huawei AR Map app, visitors can instantly see the steel behemoth turn into a virtual world.

Once in the metaverse, the conveyor belt is encircled by colorful rings of varying sizes, reminiscent of a racetrack in the runner game Subway Surfers. Above, a UFO and two giant mecha starships are cruising, all ready to land.

Also, virtual slogans floating in the air read "Welcome to the Metaverse Center," "Future with Infinite Possibilities" and "Olympic Sports for City Development."

The show is a demonstration project launched by Red Landmark, a Beijing-based startup utilizing superior talent in VR/AR technology to display China's scenic and cultural spots.

Founded in 1919, Shougang is a cornerstone of China's industrial history. It was relocated to neighboring Hebei Province in 2010, and the vast complex was included in the first batch listed for China's industrial heritage protection.

Shougang Park has been the headquarters of the Beijing Winter Olympics since 2016. The remains of the former repair workshop, coking plant, and shaft furnace have not been dismantled and are being renovated into a street mall, sci-fi theme park, X-sports arena and high-tech incubator.

The park is acclaimed as a "new landmark for Beijing's urban revitalization."

The digital technicians captured the thorough 3D data of Sangaolu and integrated them onto an AR platform which creates the 3D real-time positioning.

Gu Hui, the co-founder of Red Landmark, told Xinhua that the holographic show creates a futuristic, cyberpunk-style immersive experience within the post-industrial park, heralding the advent of the metaverse age.

Metaverse, a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection, is a global investment hotspot, although there is a slew of worries when it comes to its marketing hype.

However, Gu believes tourism is a sector that serves as a good start for metaverse application, resulting in fewer risks of market bubbles.

"It makes your tour more informative since you don't have to read a guide map so intently that you miss the real amazing landscape," said Gu. "What's better, it can make your tour much cooler."

Next, Gu's team is planning to extend AR supplements to the whole park to bring stories of this historic industrial base to life.

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