Exploring China on the Move in VR


Written By: Sonia Wang, Tom Law and China Yggström

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VR technology opens up unique routes into remote sites and remote lives. In our previous blog post we introduced its powerful potential for consumer insight, through granular immersion, in narrated documentary and for the technical observation of market contexts – promoting audience empathy at a new level of immediacy. Having just entered the Chinese New Year of the rooster, we take you on a journey to China in 360 view.

Traveling in China today is a memorable experience. Progress is evident and you will be surprised to see any primitive forms of travel, even in the developing rural areas. Here is a taste of our recent journey in China, you name it, we tried it.

The Chinese tuk tuk is an experience that should not be missed. Travelling at around 20mph, this is something all tourists and sometimes the locals do. The fastest way to go in and out of traffic for sure and the pungent scent of petrol and the occasional glimpse of hutong in the alleyway give you a strong sense of nostalgia, a hark back to what it was like before the electric bikes were introduced.

The tuk tuk is essentially a motorized version of the rickshaw. Said to have first appeared in Japan, the man powered vehicle quickly gained popularity across Asia, making its way to China in 1873. Pulled by hand or attached to a bicycle, the rickshaws came personally decorated by their owners, making them iconic to their regions. Following a time of decline, the last decades have seen tuk tuks rise in popularity, despite their drivers having had to fight to keep their business alive in the face of restrictions and official disapproval. The nifty and heat-of-the-moment, sightseeing friendly tuk tuks meander the Chinese traffic landscape, as it is becoming increasingly pressured. At the start of 2017 China made headlines, and history, suffering a 40-lane traffic congestion, souring drivers’ patience as well as air pollution. Perhaps another reason then, to explore alternative modes of transportation.

Beside the tuk tuk there are many more leisurely ways to go between places, such as by bike, bus and ferry. With the recent government announcement on the electrification of the automobile industry, sooner than later we might see those traditional modes of transport disappearing into the background. Electric buses and taxis are everywhere, not to mention the electric scooters that have been the backbone of the citizen’s everyday life for decades. Little did we know that the electric vehicle movement has already begun, no longer a trend but reality.

As a “new silk road” is being established, expanding the railroad transport across Eurasia with high speed trains, so has smartphone usage steadily increased in China, beating “the US, Brazil and Indonesia combined”.

Connectivity is what really captured our attention. The fact that we are surrounded by people and their devices constantly is a real treat for us as visual thinkers at BAMM. People are connected 24/7 via their smartphones, at transport hubs, on the road and on the move – inseparable would be the word to describe it. A High Speed Rail journey would pretty much reveal it all – you start your journey by booking the ticket via WeChat, collect your ticket with your smartphone and entertain yourself all the way through on the phone until you get to the destination. If you run out of the batteries, no problems, there are charging docks everywhere at every High Speed Rail Stations, and of course on the trains. The journey begins on the phone and ends with the phone!

We’ve heard about the progress but experiencing it in person is altogether eye opening. If you are not planning to travel East for a short while, make sure you have a look through our VR footage, they sure will give you a lively, if not fresh perspective of what’s like to travel in China.

Wishing you a great journey home from BAMM!

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