“Extended reality” is expected to generate 860,000 job opportunities in Europe by 2025, according to the European Commission. The Commission has unveiled its ambitions to become a global leader in Web 4.0 and the Metaverse.
The term “extended reality” (XR) encompasses technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), which allow individuals to interact with virtual worlds. The Commission emphasized that XR is a significant facilitator for virtual worlds and described it as a “major technology enabler.”
This development is projected to have a substantial impact on employment. The Commission predicts that between 1.2 million and 2.4 million jobs will be directly or indirectly created in various sectors by 2025.
Nevertheless, the Commission acknowledged that the majority of Metaverse innovation currently takes place in the United States, China, and South Korea. In contrast, the EU lacks tech giants capable of spearheading the investment in virtual world development in the coming decade.
While the AR/VR market in Europe primarily focuses on gaming, media, and entertainment, there are abundant opportunities in other sectors such as retail, healthcare, military and defense, and manufacturing.
The Commission highlighted that virtual worlds, facilitated by XR devices, are one of the core technologies propelling Web 4.0—the next generation of the internet. In Web 4.0, physical and digital objects converge in real-time within virtual environments, ushering in a transformative technological transition.
The potential applications are vast. Virtual worlds can be employed to train surgeons in intricate medical procedures, employ “digital twins” to preserve cultural heritage structures, or even employ 3D models to address global warming.
In a working document presented to the European Parliament, the Commission outlined its strategy to become a global leader in Web 4.0 and the Metaverse.
Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, expressed Europe’s ambition, stating, “Today, Europe throws its hat in the ring to become a world leader in Web 4.0 and virtual worlds.”
To achieve this goal, the Commission has proposed ten actions, including attracting specialized talent in virtual world development, establishing regulatory sandboxes for testing innovative ideas, and developing global standards for interoperable metaverses.
Breton added, “Europe possesses the necessary ingredients to lead the next technological transition: innovative start-ups, rich creative content and industrial applications, a prominent role as a global standard-setter, and an innovation-friendly and predictable legal framework.”