Virtual China

Published: November 19 2008


If you didn’t make it to Beijing for the Olympics, you could one day experience China here at home.

University of Florida engineers have designed a virtual reality system that replicates China, right down to streets and businesses. If you’re planning a trip there for business or pleasure, engineer Paul Fishwick says you can practice the experience.

Fishwick: “If we don’t know another culture, we often make mistakes. We make mistakes in communication, we make mistakes with things that we do, our actions. So to try and mitigate those mistakes, we need some sort of training or learning tool.”

The program’s based on the popular “Second Life” online virtual world launched back in 2003. UF researchers call their Chinese version “Second China.”

Fishwick: “I think it makes sense to imagine that before we go to a place, we will be using these types of systems where we feel more immersed. Because one of the things technology such as Second Life gives you is the feeling of being there.”

Researchers say there’s enormous potential with this approach. Engineers could design realistic virtual environments of various locales around the world.

(See related post: ‘Second China’ offers foreign service workers first impression)