Expo Shanghai Online launches

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The Independent Online

Shanghai Expo 2010 launched the Expo Shanghai Online April 7, allowing visitors a sneak peek at the Expo site 23 days before the extravaganza opens.

Expo Shanghai Online, which went live in conjunction with a dramatic redesign for the Shanghai Expo 2010 main website, allows visitors a 3D virtual reality tour of the massive Expo site, which sits on the banks of the Huangpu River. The impressive site will be available in four languages - English, Chinese, Japanese and French.

Visitors to the site can view artists' renditions of 50 of the pavilions, navigating the 5 km2 site from the air to zoom in on areas of attraction. The site can also be displayed by zone, allowing users to search for pavilions by continent or type.

Visitors are taken around by Taibao, the blue character elected as the official mascot of the event. As visitors visit different pavilions, Taibao acts as a tour guide, giving an audio and text tour of the exhibit. Using Google Map style navigation tools, site users can see pavilions from different angles, and at day and night.

Expo organizers say that performances that are part of the event will be shown on the website, and that visitors will be able to create profiles and communicate with one another on the site to create a virtual Expo experience.

Out of the 260 participants, 217 have agreed to put their displays online, and the remaining pavilions will be added in the coming weeks ahead of the main event. The website is to remain online after the 184-day event has ended, allowing web users to "visit" the expo long after it has closed and making Shanghai 2010 an "expo that never dies."

Visit the Expo Shanghai Online: http://en.expo.cn

Shanghai Expo 2010 Website: http://en.expo2010.cn