NANCHANG, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- The 2018 World Conference on VR Industry opened on Friday in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, to offer a glimpse into the world's latest developments in virtual reality (VR).
China's VR industry has witnessed rapid growth in recent years, and its huge market potential attracted global VR developers, including Microsoft, Qualcomm, HTC, Sony and Huawei, to the conference.
The three-day event will feature forums on VR, AI and 5G technology, as well as a VR expo in which several companies will display their latest VR products.
Jiangxi's Vice Governor Wu Xiaojun has said a total of 60 projects would be signed during the conference with total investment amounting to 19.1 billion yuan (2.78 billion U.S. dollars).
VR technologies, predicted to open up a gigantic new market as laptops and smart-phones once did, have been a topic of much interest in China, with hope they may help innovate the economy.
Miao Wei, China's minister of industry and information technology, said VR was expected to lay the foundation for many new innovations and lead a new round of technological and industrial changes.
Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, said at the opening ceremony that VR should not be just a novel application, but should integrate with other technologies and the real economy.
"Only when it fuses with the Internet, big data and cloud computing, will VR develop from a toy to a key technology that can solve real problems. We look forward to especially how it will change education and medicine," he said.
VR uses computer technology to simulate virtual 3D environments that resemble reality. Wearing equipment such as helmets and glasses, users feel being they are being put in a new environment, such as on a scenic island or a room they can decorate.
VR and its technological brothers augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) can be widely applied in education and training, medicine, gaming, tourism and online shopping.
China's VR market expanded 164 percent year-on-year to reach 16 billion yuan in 2017. The market is likely to exceed 90 billion yuan by 2020, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which has promised support for the research and development of core VR technologies.
In the rush to embrace VR, the province of Jiangxi in 2016 launched China's first industrial base for VR, and the city of Nanchang now boasts over 60 VR firms, according to Liu Qi, Party chief of Jiangxi.
Industry observers agree that China holds a vast market and talent pool, which are vital for new technologies like VR.
"The Chinese market of more than 1.3 billion people can satisfy any new technology," Zhao Baige, chair of the expert committee of the Belt and Road International Think Tank, said at the conference.
On Thursday, Microsoft said it planned to locate a new incubator in Jiangxi for the development of MR technologies, which blend physical and digital worlds.
Alain Crozier, CEO of Microsoft Greater China Region, said China was the second largest market for MR device HoloLens, and may surpass the United States to become the largest market in one or two years.