Today, the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) hosted the fourth Dialogue on Immersive Technologies. Around 100 interested parties from politics, business, research and society attended. They discussed concrete fields of application and practical hurdles in experimenting with the metaverse. The EU Commission also presented its ideas.
Federal Minister for Digital Dr Volker Wissing emphasized the great potential of immersive technologies:
Digitalization is the key to greater progress and prosperity. It helps to rehabilitate our infrastructure, mitigate the shortage of skilled workers and safeguard our competitiveness. Immersive technologies play an increasingly important role in this. With digital twins, for example, we can build faster and more efficiently. Live instructions in the metaverse facilitate the training of personnel, for instance in nursing, and, in mechanical engineering, virtual models enable location-independent maintenance. This leads to the emergence of new business models for German industry.
I want to make our country the best location for new technologies. We need to open up scope for experimentation for innovative companies, promote the use and remove regulatory barriers wherever possible. That is why dialogue with users is so important to me.
Dr Roberto Viola, Director-General of the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), joined the event from Brussels. He presented the Commission's Communication on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds.
With its solid base of innovative SMEs and leading technological universities and research centres, Germany has a crucial role to play as we move from the Web 2.0 we know today to Web 4.0 and virtual worlds. Yesterday, the Commission adopted a Communication on “An EU initiative on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds: a head start in the next technological transition”. This head start will ensure that the EU’s high-tech sector and businesses have tools they need to be in competition with the world and reap the benefits of Web 4.0.
In September 2022, Germany became one of the first countries in the world to initiate a structured dialogue on immersive technologies and the metaverse. Since then, interested parties from business, science, government and society have met a total of four times to explore the economic and social potential of immersive technologies in Germany and the EU based on an opportunity-focused approach and to create the appropriate framework conditions for that purpose.
On 11 July 2023, the European Commission adopted the Communication on “An EU initiative on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds: a head start in the next technological transition”. The BMDV will actively participate in the upcoming European discussion process and advocate an innovation-friendly approach. The dialogue with stakeholders has shown that there is no need for regulatory intervention; on the contrary, it is a matter of breaking down barriers and opening up scope for experimentation.
What is the metaverse?
There is no uniform definition but different visions and manifestations. We understand it to mean immersive, collaborative, interactive and permanent environments that connect physical and virtual reality in real time. That is, for example, a scenario where several users can simultaneously look at, and jointly work on, a 3D visualization with the help of AR glasses.
The BMDV is funding several projects in which immersive technologies are being developed and tested. In the mFUND, there is a separate funding priority entitled "Potential for the use of immersive technologies in the context of mobility".