‘Extended reality’ to create 860K jobs by 2025: EU Commission

The European Commission has tipped “extended reality” — technology that enables people to interact with virtual worlds — will create as many as 860,000 jobs in Europe by 2025. 

Extended reality or XR is an umbrella term for immersive technologies including virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, and is a “major technology enabler” for virtual worlds, said the Commission on July 11.

“The impact on employment is expected to be highly significant,” it said, noting that another 1.2 million to 2.4 million jobs would be directly or indirectly created in other sectors by 2025.

However, the Commission noted that today, most of the innovation around the Metaverse occurs in the United States, China and South Korea.

“Contrary to these countries, in the EU there are no tech giants to lead the investment in the development of virtual worlds over the next decade.”

Most of the AR/VR market activity in Europe focuses on gaming, media and entertainment, but there’s “much room” for other applications, including retail, healthcare, military and defense, and manufacturing.

The Commission noted that virtual worlds, enabled by these XR devices, are one of the technologies enabling the “next generation” of the world wide web — Web 4.0 — where physical and digital objects come together in virtual environments in real-time.

“We are at the onset of a major technological transition, Web 4.0. Virtual worlds are an important enabler of Web 4.0 that can significantly revolutionize the daily lives of people and open a wide range of opportunities in many business and industrial ecosystems,” it said.

Some examples included using virtual worlds to train surgeons for complex medical procedures, using “digital twins” to preserve cultural heritage buildings, or even, using 3D models to solve global warming.

In its working document submitted to the European Parliament, the Commission proposed its plan to become a “world leader” in Web 4.0 and the Metaverse.

Related: EU blockchain sandbox unveils first 20 use cases after wave of applications

“Today, Europe throws its hat in the ring to become a world leader in Web 4.0 and virtual worlds,” said Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market.

A total of 10 actions have been proposed by the Commission to achieve this, including attracting specialized virtual world talent to the region, creating regulatory sandboxes to test novel ideas and developing global standards for interoperable metaverses.

“Europe has what it takes to lead the next technological transition: innovative start-ups, rich creative content, and industrial applications, a strong role as a global standard-setter, and an innovation-friendly and predictable legal framework,” added Breton.

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