Expanding Horizons: EU Commission Forecasts 860K Job Opportunities through Extended Reality by 2025

The European Commission has unveiled a bold projection, stating that the burgeoning technology of “extended reality” (XR) has the potential to create an estimated 860,000 job opportunities across Europe by 2025. XR encompasses a range of immersive technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), and is hailed as a pivotal enabler for virtual worlds, as declared by the Commission on July 11.

Highlighting the significance of XR, the Commission emphasized that its employment impact is expected to be substantial, with an additional 1.2 to 2.4 million jobs directly or indirectly emerging in other sectors by the designated year.

However, it also acknowledged that the forefront of innovation in the Metaverse domain lies in the United States, China, and South Korea, with no equivalent tech giants currently leading the investment in virtual world development within the EU.

Presently, the majority of AR/VR market activities in Europe are centered around gaming, media, and entertainment. Nonetheless, the Commission underlined the vast potential for XR applications in various sectors such as retail, healthcare, military and defense, and manufacturing, affirming that ample opportunities exist beyond the realms of existing exploration.

The Commission underscored that virtual worlds, facilitated by XR devices, represent a core component of the “next generation” of the World Wide Web, dubbed Web 4.0. In this envisioned landscape, physical and digital objects converge in real-time within virtual environments, opening up transformative possibilities for individuals and paving the way for a multitude of opportunities across business and industrial ecosystems.

The transformative impact of virtual worlds was exemplified by the Commission, citing instances such as utilizing virtual environments for training surgeons in intricate medical procedures, preserving cultural heritage buildings through the creation of “digital twins,” or harnessing 3D models to address global warming challenges.

In a working document presented to the European Parliament, the Commission outlined its ambitious strategy to position itself as a global leader in both Web 4.0 and the Metaverse.

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

The Commission’s proposed plan encompasses ten key actions to achieve this goal. These include attracting specialized talent in virtual world technologies to the region, establishing regulatory sandboxes for testing innovative ideas, and developing global standards for interconnected metaverses.

Breton further emphasized Europe’s favorable position to spearhead the next technological transition, citing innovative startups, abundant creative content, a strong role as a global standard-setter, and an innovation-friendly and predictable legal framework as factors that contribute to Europe’s potential success in this domain.

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