MR, which allows users to interact with both physical and digital objects at the same time, makes up a group of technologies known as XR, along with VR and augmented reality.
GDI, established in 2007, claims to be one of the earliest VR companies in China. Headquartered in Shanghai’s Songjiang district, the business currently has over 200 employees, focusing on XR hardware and software solutions.
Known more commonly in the industry as VR engines, tools like IdeaXR allow users to design and create 3D immersive experiences. IdeaXR, in particular, helps people with little knowledge in traditional programming languages to build VR content and applications more easily, using its so-called graphical interactive editor.
“The key underlying technology of VR is the engine,” said Zhou. “The first thing I wanted to do when I started my business was to build a domestic VR engine.”
IdeaXR, released in 2010 under the name DVS3D, has nearly 100,000 users in China, making it one of the most popular VR engines in the country besides the US-made Unity and Unreal Engine, according to Zhou.
While the other two engines are used mostly by video game developers, GDI differentiates itself by serving a wider array of clients including those in education, emergency services and advanced manufacturing. Those customers are often interested in making VR tools for training and tutoring, Zhou said.
GDI’s strategy seems to be working: the company has so far provided services to more than 3,000 business clients. They include big names such as Shanghai’s Pudong Airport, Chinese oil refining giant Sinopec, Peking University, Tsinghua University and Disney.
In the first half of 2023, GDI reported a 96 per cent year-on-year jump in revenue to 107 million yuan (US$14.9 million), allowing it to swing to a net profit of 13.65 million yuan after seeing sales drop 34 per cent last year partly because of Shanghai’s two-month Covid-19 lockdown and related supply chain disruptions, Zhou said.
GDI’s business also dovetails with China’s national strategy to boost its digital economy.
Another national blueprint that came out last November aimed to grow China’s MR industry to 350 billion yuan and achieve shipments of 25 million MR devices, both by 2026.
A few months earlier in July, the Shanghai government said it would establish a roughly 10 billion yuan industry fund dedicated to metaverse development.
Zhou said GDI was committed to supporting home-grown technology.
However, Zhou said GDI was also open to using chips made by other companies based on the standards of British firm Arm or US company Intel.
Recent advancement in the field of AI has created more possibilities for XR technology, according to Zhou.
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