In this April 2, 2019, photo, a visitor rides a virtual roller coaster ride operated by a robotic arm 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 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)

Far from glitzy tech hubs, Chinese city bets big on VR

April 27, 2019 - 7:40 pm

NANCHANG, China (AP) — Enthusiasm for VR has cooled after years of hype, but China's leaders are trying to drum up excitement and take the lead in a technology they expect eventually will be used widely.

To coax homegrown entrepreneurs into taking the plunge, the government is educating students, subsidizing office spaces, and sponsoring conferences and competitions.

A VR theme park in the central Chinese city of Nanchang, "VR Star," offers 42 rides and exhibits, including VR bumper cars and VR shoot-'em-ups. It's part of Nanchang's "VR base," a sprawling complex of mostly still empty, futuristic glass-and-steel offices.

VR is part of Beijing's "Made in China 2025", an ambitious plan to develop global competitors in advanced technologies including electric cars, wind power, and robotics.

Officials hope Nanchang will become a world-class virtual reality hub.

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