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Human Augmentation Applied to Digital Transformation

Across the globe, business leaders and government policymakers are exploring applications for human augmentation. These enhancements are described as the natural, artificial, or technological alteration of the human body in order to improve physical or mental capabilities.

The European human augmentation market -- including augmented and virtual reality, biometrics, exoskeletons, wearables, affective computing, and other human augmentation technologies -- will reach over $62 billion by the end of 2022 and more than $100 billion by 2026.

According to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), businesses are increasing their investments in these technologies, and the overall human augmentation market will grow 37 percent in Europe by the end of 2022.

Human Augmentation Market Development

Companies are adopting a digital-first model and adapting to new realities and work policies that require support for use cases such as remote work collaboration, virtualized presence, and employee augmentation.

"As the work culture changes in Europe, many companies will accelerate their digital transformation efforts and we will more frequently hear about human augmentation and its benefits," said Andrea Minonne, research manager at IDC.

According to the IDC analyst assessment, organizations are researching this phenomenon because we now live in an era when skill and staff shortages, supply chain disruptions, IT security concerns, and hybrid workspaces are part of our daily life.

Human augmentation will be crucial to bridge these gaps and address industry needs, and European companies will use business technology to unlock new skills and elevate existing ones, while also creating digital-based employee experiences.

European spending on smart devices that users can activate using voice commands and wearables will reach $55 billion this year. These technologies are fully established in the market and although they aim to elevate consumer experiences rather than targeting business needs, they will support most of the investments in human augmentation.

Other technologies -- including biometrics, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) -- are in an emerging phase, with several projects deployed in some vertical markets and across enterprises targeting multiple use cases.

Moreover, technology including ingestible, injectable, and implantable devices, exoskeletons, brain-computer interfaces, and affective computing is a niche market at a nascent phase, with many projects in the early proof-of-concept phase.

The human augmentation market has been affected by several factors, including the conflict in Eastern Europe. The war in Ukraine has generated a $200 million spending loss in AR headsets, as many companies pulled out of Russia, slowing down augmentation-oriented projects in the country.

Outlook for Human Augmentation Applications Growth

Looking ahead, human augmentation will play a role in supporting the metaverse and its emerging business-oriented use cases. IDC says new technology, such as affective computing and brain-computer interfaces, will slowly become a component of the commercial metaverse ecosystem.

Meanwhile, AR and VR will be the foundation for the metaverse, and companies already deploying these immersive technologies will be a few steps ahead in the metaverse applications leadership space.

That said, I anticipate CIOs and CTOs will also explore Digital Workspace Ethnography -- an approach to improve the understanding of how employees complete routine workflow tasks while online. The goal is to enhance the employee experience via SaaS-based automation adoption and ongoing usage.

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