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Virtual worlds: where innovation and human collaboration meet

Virtual reality world
Daniel Errea

Daniel Errea


Imagine stepping into a world where the boundaries of reality blur, where you can build cities of the future, explore the depths of the human body, or collaborate with colleagues scattered across the globe—all without leaving your room, lab or office. This is not a scene from a science fiction novel but a glimpse into the transformative power of virtual worlds. These immersive digital landscapes are no longer confined to the realms of gaming and entertainment; they have become fertile grounds for human-driven innovation, reshaping how we create, learn, and solve problems.

The Need for Virtual Worlds in Today’s Landscape

In the current technological and social landscape, the need for virtual world technology is more pressing than ever. The rapid pace of digital transformation, coupled with the global challenges posed by pandemics, climate change, and economic shifts, underscores the relevance of virtual worlds. With an estimated global growth of €800 billion by 2030 and a potential 860,000 new jobs created by 2025, virtual worlds are set to transform the business and employment sectors in the EU.

Virtual worlds provide a sandbox for experimentation without real-world consequences. In these digital environments, users can prototype ideas, test theories, and visualize outcomes in ways that are often impractical or impossible in the physical world. This freedom to experiment accelerates the creative process, enabling rapid iteration and refinement of ideas. For instance, architects and urban planners use virtual reality (VR) to design and model buildings and cities, allowing them to explore different scenarios and designs in a cost-effective manner.

One of the most significant advantages of virtual worlds is their ability to bring people together from different locations in a shared space. This capability is particularly valuable in today’s globalized economy, where collaboration often spans continents. Virtual environments allow teams to work together in real-time, regardless of physical location. For example, companies like Microsoft and NVIDIA have developed virtual collaboration tools that enable remote teams to meet in virtual offices, brainstorm on virtual whiteboards, and engage in immersive team-building activities.

Beyond individual industries, virtual worlds have the potential to drive broader social innovation. They can be used to simulate social and environmental challenges, helping policymakers and researchers explore the potential impacts of different interventions. For example, virtual simulations can model the effects of climate change on urban areas, allowing planners to develop more effective strategies for mitigation and adaptation. Additionally, virtual worlds can foster empathy and understanding by allowing users to experience life from different perspectives, promoting social cohesion and inclusivity.

The Role of Human-Machine Interaction

In this revolution, human-machine interaction (HMI) is a critical component of the innovation facilitated by virtual worlds. HMI technologies, such as VR headsets, haptic feedback devices, and advanced motion sensors, create more immersive and intuitive interactions between users and digital environments. These interactions are pivotal in ensuring that virtual experiences are realistic and engaging, which enhances their utility for innovation.

For instance, in industrial design, HMI allows designers to manipulate 3D models with precision and ease, exploring the ergonomics and functionality of new products in a virtual space before they are manufactured. In healthcare, advanced HMI enables surgeons to control robotic instruments with high accuracy during virtual training sessions, closely mimicking real-world surgical procedures.

Moreover, artificial intelligence (AI) integration within virtual worlds can adapt environments in real-time based on user input, providing a dynamic and personalized experience. AI-driven avatars and virtual assistants can facilitate complex tasks, provide real-time feedback, and support users in navigating virtual spaces, making these environments more accessible and effective for innovation. All in all, the need for human contribution is unquestionable.

Public commitment to foster Virtual Reality World

In this landscape, public-private collaboration plays a crucial role in fostering the development and adoption of virtual world technologies. Their support is essential for creating an environment conducive to innovation and ensuring that the benefits of these technologies are widely distributed. This support should come in the form of:

  • Grants to pave the way for R&D reach the market
  • Policies to ensure ethical practices around virtual worlds, guaranteeing privacy and promoting fair and equitable access
  • Public-private partnerships to accelerate the technology deployment
  • Capacity building by supporting educational initiatives, new curricula and training programmes
  • Infrastructure investment in advance computing facilities or improve services in underserved areas

Steps are being taken in these directions, with the creation in Europe of the new Public Private Partnership “Virtual Worlds” and the adoption of adopted a strategy on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds to steer the next technological transition and ensure an open, secure, trustworthy, fair and inclusive digital environment for EU citizens, businesses and public administrations. The strategy is drafted around four pillars: Empowering people and reinforcing skills; Business; Government; Openness and global governance of Web 4.0 and virtual worlds. This strategy clearly sets the roadmap to work in the following years in order to be the top of the class in this new technological transition.


Despite their potential, the adoption of virtual worlds for innovation is not without challenges. Issues such as accessibility, technological limitations, and the need for robust cybersecurity measures must be addressed. Ensuring that these virtual environments are inclusive and accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic status, is crucial for maximizing their impact. Furthermore, the development of virtual worlds must prioritize user privacy and data security to build trust and encourage widespread use.

All in all, virtual worlds are proving to be invaluable tools for human-driven innovation, offering new ways to collaborate, learn, and solve complex problems and given the current landscape, the need for virtual world technology is undeniable. We can unlock new levels of creativity and collaboration, paving the way for a more innovative and interconnected future.

Expert person

Daniel Errea
Daniel Errea

Pamplona Office