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Communications of the ACM

China Region special section: Big trends

The Present and Future of Mixed Reality in China

woman wearing AR goggles points to a projected display

Credit: Khoamartin

Virtual reality (VR) technology can be used to generate a lifelike virtual world, allowing users to roam freely in this virtual world and interact with it. Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes and fuses virtual scenery or information with the real physical environment, and interactively presents it in front of users, so that the virtuality and reality share the same space. Mixed reality (MR) is a further development of VR and AR. Its concept was proposed by Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino in 1994, who described the entire continuum from reality to virtuality.14

VR/AR research in China began in the late 1990s. In 2002, the 973 project (National Basic Research Program) "Fundamental Theories, Algorithms of Virtual Reality and Its Implementation" was established, with Hujun Bao from Zhejiang University as the chief scientist. In 2009, the project received continuous support, and the focus was shifted to AR and MR. The research of these two projects lasted for 10 years. Zhejiang University, the Institute of Software and the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT), Beihang University, Tsinghua University, and other institutions participated in these two projects. The projects made many world-class research advances in VR/AR related areas such as automatic camera tracking, efficient modeling, real-time rendering, multichannel human-computer interaction, VR/AR headset display, 3D registration, as well as VR/AR engines and software platforms. The projects also trained a group of outstanding VR/AR researchers, which significantly boosted VR/AR research in China.


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