Expo in Shanghai . . . and the Virtual World

Fireworks at Shanghai World Expo

It was a sleepless night in Shanghai.  When the spectacular fireworks rocketed into the sky, weaving brilliant pictures upon the 5.3 square-kilometer Expo Park, the first World Expo hosted by China unveiled its curtain.

In the meantime, in the virtual world, over 300 virtual Expo pavilions finally opened their doors to greet visitors from any corner of the world.

“We are expecting about 100 million visitors online,” said by Mr. Wang Li Ping, Chief Operation Officer of Expo Website Management Office.

Call me biased, but after a quick visit of the physical and virtual Expo, I found the French Pavilion among the top of all pavilions both on the Expo ground and in the virtual world.  When I first entered the physical French Pavilion, I strongly experienced the power of “See what you mean,” “See it before it even exists.”

For the past six months, I’ve walked through the virtual French Pavilion numerous times.  It indeed felt surreal when I found myself actually standing inside it.  “This is exactly the same!”  I almost screamed at the entrance…

That day, May 1st, the first day of Expo Shanghai, 100,000 out of the 200,000 visitors of the Expo experienced the French Pavilion.  The opening ceremony of the French Pavilion was held at its beautiful roof garden, where it greeted Alain Delon and the famous Chinese actress, Gong Li. Philippe Forestier and Christian Nardin were also among the VIP guests.

For those who will attend this year’s PLM Forum in China, you will be at this romantic garden enjoying the French banquet in just one month!

Up till yesterday, about 1.5 million visitors went to the Expo ground; 500,000 of them visited the Chinese Pavilion (only 50,000 allowed each day) and 700,000 experienced the French Pavilion.  In the meantime, over 30 million people around the world have paid their visit to the first “virtual Expo.”

I was one of them.

However, I wasn’t a “normal” visitor because I was very anxious t to find out what’s inside the 24 pavilions that used 3DVIA to create their online 3D version.

Indeed, there were lots of nice surprise and great findings. These are some of my favorites:


French Pavilion (Zone C): not only one of the most beautiful pavilions, but also one of those that are easiest to navigate through.  The virtual tour to Musee d’Orsay to see the paintings in 3D will definitely be a nice surprise for the visitors! Kudos to Frederic PY for all the hard and great work!


Jilin Pavilion (Zone A- inside China Pavilion): A dreamy pavilion presenting the spring and snowy seasons of the Jilin province. Many cute 3D real-time interactions, for example, when you step on the snow, you see your own foot prints while hearing the sound of each step; you definitely don’t want to mess around with the snowman because he will throw a snow ball right to your face! And definitely don’t forget to make yourself some popcorn and eat it “virtually”!


Taipei (Zone E – Case Joint Pavilion 4-3): Another easy-to-navigate pavilion where visitors can experience fun real-time 3D interactivity.  You can contribute to a cleaner river in Taipei by touching the water; you can also play with the famous Taipei 101 building in your hand in 3D!


Shandong Pavilion (Zone A – inside China Pavilion): Shandong is the cultural hub of the old China. It’s the hometown of Confucius and many historical figures. As you climb the famous Tai Mountain in 3D, you are introduced to the historical figures and their stories. The experience of climbing this virtual mountain reminds me of the movie, Avatar.  This pavilion is not fully completed yet though; in the later version, visitors will be able to see the future city of Shandong where it’s green and sustainable.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear from you to learn which online pavilions you like best!

Meanwhile, happy virtual Expo!