The XR Association (XRA) which is a trading association that represents the growing ecosystem of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality companies has released a white paper co-authored by the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub at George Washington University.
The paper titled, ‘Reality Check: Why the U.S. Government Should Nurture XR Development’ is a comparison of what China, South Korea, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States are doing to develop and deploy immersive technology (XR).
Building an XR future
In the paper, both the XRA and the co-author examine how these governments are creating the necessary environment for XR to flourish by investing in research and innovation. They’ve also established regulatory certainty and are working towards building trust for data-driven technologies like XR. Despite its impact on the economy and national security, the US has yet to present a vision for XR. This reluctance poses a risk of lagging behind other global competitors in this nascent, yet promising field, the paper notes.
Joan O’Hara, senior vice president of public policy at the XR Association said, “XR is a transformative technology that is already driving economic growth and impacting strategic challenges like climate, workforce development, and industrial productivity. The US is the world’s largest market by revenue for immersive technologies and one of the world’s largest producers of XR content and hardware; yet we are behind the curve.
“In 2022, Congress included immersive technology in the CHIPS and Science Act’s list of ‘key technology focus areas,’ and it has been designated a critical technology,” O’Hara added. “Yet, despite its immense benefits to the public and private sectors, the United States has not developed a strategy or institutional structure for nurturing the XR industry.”
As outlined in the paper, China and South Korea have established comprehensive national strategies for XR and the metaverse, channelling substantial investments in billions for research and development. Key XR components also align with Beijing’s Made in China 2025 strategy and play a pivotal role in South Korea’s extensive Digital New Deal strategy. In Europe and the UK, policymakers have articulated strategic visions for XR, notably through initiatives on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds, as well as a national Cyber-Physical Infrastructure, respectively.
“Other countries see XR dominance as their chance to shape the future of computing and bolster their economic influence – and they are actively pursuing that end,” noted Miranda Lutz, director of public policy at the XR Association. “Our objective in writing this paper is to provide an unvarnished look at the current state of play around XR, and encourage US policymakers to position the US as a world leader in immersive tech.
“We hope it will be an eye-opener. In a world where geopolitical power is increasingly linked to technological advancement, the United States government should nurture XR development in a strategic and systemic way. If it fails to do so, other nations may step in to lead the world in the development, adoption, and governance of a technology that is poised to transform the way we live, work, communicate, and deliver essential human services,” said Lutz.
“The idea that virtual reality is only for gaming is no longer valid. Governments around the world now recognize the transformative potential of immersive technologies across industries and applications,” said Adam Zable, ‘Reality Check’ co-author, and director of emerging ttechnology at the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub. “Moreover, they are working proactively to propel the growth of their domestic industries, aiming not just to shape the trajectory of technology but also to secure a leading position in what they consider one of the most pivotal economic frontiers.
You can download the full report here.