• E-commerce giant wants to use VR for games, video services
  • Alibaba led fundraising for U.S. VR company Magic Leap

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. wants to use virtual reality to enhance the shopping experience for its 400 million users and has set up a lab to research a technology it expects to become as common as television.

The Chinese e-commerce emporium is exploring how virtual reality technology can be applied to its other services, including online games and video streaming, according to an e-mailed statement from the company on Thursday.

Alibaba is revealing for the first time its foray into the emerging market, which included leading a round of fundraising for U.S.-based Magic Leap Inc. The virtual reality and augmented reality hardware industry is expected to reach $110 billion by 2025, Alibaba cited Goldman Sachs Group Inc. research as saying.

The e-commerce company’s GnomeMagic Lab will work closely with its other units and affiliates, including video streaming site Youku Tudou Inc. and Alibaba Pictures Group, the company said.

Alibaba will work on creating music and video and help promote VR-hardware manufacturers on its e-commerce platforms, it said. The company has already created three-dimensional visuals for hundreds of products and will issue standards for merchants to create VR-enabled shopping options.