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Chinese Tech Giant Baidu Joins Nike, Coinbase Others in the Metaverse

The Beijing company unveiled a version of its metaverse allowing users to interact with their digital form and visit virtual locations on its app XiRang.

China's largest search engine Baidu  (BIDU) - Get Baidu Inc. Report has launched its own version of the metaverse by letting customers use digital avatars to interact virtually and visit virtual locations on its new app XiRang, according to media reports.

XiRang means "Land of Hope" as reported by ABS-CBN News.

Tech giant Baidu's revamped virtual reality app XiRang, which can host up to 100,000 users at a time, is a virtual "Creator City" that can host meetings and other events. 

"Other locations recreate attractions such as China's Shaolin Temple," Nikkei Asia reported.

The app can be accessed on mobile phones and laptops using virtual reality headsets made by Chinese manufacturer Pico.

The Beijing company made the announcement at an event it claimed was "China’s first metaverse conference" in front of Baidu Co-Founder and Chief Executive Robin Li and an audience of 3D avatars. 

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CNBC reported that "the development of the app XiRang began last December", but it could still be six years until its full launch, citing Baidu Vice President Ma Jie.

What Is the Metaverse?

The Atlantic describes metaverse as simply a 'sexy', aspirational name for some kind of virtual or augmented-reality play.

A few weeks back, athletic apparel and sneaker brand Nike  (NKE) - Get NIKE, Inc. Class B Report stepped into the non-fungible token, or NFT world, with plans to mint digital sneakers for avatars in the metaverse.

Separately, in a Medium blog post published Dec. 16, cryptocurrency platform Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Identity Product Lead Alex Reeve said they were planning to launch username-based NFTs. 

The cryptocurrency trading platform plans to launch NFT-based usernames for Coinbase users to access and navigate in the metaverse.

"We know that the Metaverse will exist, and we know it will be a series of interconnected virtual worlds," Armstrong and Reeve wrote in the post. "Our goal is to make it easy for anyone to establish their identity and gain access to those worlds in a way that's simple, trusted and decentralized."