Augmented and Virtual Reality Trends: Statistics and Future Prognosis
The first attempts to create interactive devices that allow interacting with the simulated reality or complementing reality with information imposed were made at the beginning of the 20th century, the very concept of mixed reality, elements of which are AR and VR in the modern view, is rather young (24 years) as well as the market of virtual and augmented reality technologies themselves.
Virtual and augmented reality technologies have gone through a significant evolutionary path in terms of improving devices and software and content, and have already experienced several growth jumps.
Immersive Digital Transformation
The use of these technologies is not limited to the sphere of entertainment and games. Many experts believe that virtual and augmented reality technologies, along with BigData, cloud technologies, artificial intelligence, and some others, will become key technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.
Technologies of augmented and virtual reality can form the basis of a new computing platform. Already today, projects based on them help not only to create conceptually new markets but also to change existing ones.
Representatives of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in their study state that augmented and virtual reality technologies can be a key factor in the next-generation computing platform. The turning point in the development of these technologies is expected in 2020.
Today, the development of content and software for virtual and augmented reality can be compared with the development of mobile applications. So, there are finished product developers and business tools based on these technologies on the market.
Content and software can also be divided into two types:
Consumer-oriented, designed to create impressions, emotional experiences or provide direct information: advertising, games and entertainment, a demonstration of the product and its characteristics;
Employee-oriented, so that they can solve applied problems and increase cost-effectiveness:
training and skills development; prototyping and visualization; assistance in equipment operation; communication.
Immersive Technologies Will Be Widely Used
The investment bank Goldman Sachs conducted a global analysis of the market for virtual and augmented reality technologies and a forecast of the market potential in 2020 and 2025 in various areas of activity. According to experts, the total volume of the software market for virtual and augmented reality in 2025 will amount to $ 35 billion, and the total audience will make 315 million users (in 2017 the market volume was about $ 9.1 billion).
Experts concluded that, in addition to the entertainment industry, in the near future, virtual and augmented reality technology will be widely used in real estate, commerce, and healthcare. Analysts believe that the share of software in the B2C segment will be 54%, and in the B2B segment — 46%.
The development of software and content for augmented reality will lag far behind the same for virtual reality, and by 2025 three-quarters of the market will belong to solutions for VR. However, over time, the gap will shrink.
According to the forecast of Goldman Sachs, virtual reality devices will soon become as popular and functional as mobile phones.
With the help of such devices, users will be able to watch movies and TV shows, attend mass events and make purchases. And this means that virtual reality will significantly expand the capabilities of small and large businesses. Forecasts of other companies differ from those presented in Goldman Sachs study. They assume that the total market volume of hardware and software for virtual reality technologies in 2023 will grow to 34.1 billion dollars, and for augmented reality to 60.5 billion dollars.
The key driver of growth in the market volume of virtual reality devices will be the proliferation of virtual reality helmets thanks to the gaming and entertainment industry.
Growing Demand for Augmented and Virtual Reality Solutions
Significant growth in the field of augmented reality technologies, the prevalence of augmented reality technologies over virtual reality technologies are primarily due to the growing demand for augmented reality devices in the healthcare sector, a significant demand is predicted for display systems for windshields, ready-made augmented reality software solutions for sales sector and growth in investment for the creation of augmented reality devices.
In addition, the popularity of augmented reality can be explained by the following factors:
- more opportunities for use;
- ease of development, lower technical requirements;
- a wide range of devices, in particular mobile, and their lower cost.
As for players in the global market, depending on their functions, the following categories can be distinguished:
Applications and content (games, entertainment, social networks and media, sports and broadcasting, tourism, journalism, education, production, health care, advertising, and analytics): Google, Microsoft, Sony, Apple, Valve, Facebook, Disney;
Tools and platforms (distributors, 3D-tools, reality capture): Unity, Unreal Engine, Dolby Atmos, Valve, Facebook;
Infrastructure (helmets, glasses, accessories): Oculus, Apple, Daqri, Google, Microsoft, Valve, HTC.
Based on the analysis of the relevant categories, The Venture Reality Fund has made a map of the global market of virtual and augmented reality.
North America AR market valued at $525 mn in 2017 and is projected to expand at over a CAGR of 67.5% from 2018 to 2024. New applications of AR devices in the retail sector are growing rapidly. Applications of this technology attract customers and provide them with information about the company’s products and services. Several retailers have installed these devices in their stores, providing visual merchandising of their products. According to the Graphical Research, North America AR market size will exceed USD 19 billion by 2024.
Manufacturers in the North American AR market are developing smart glasses that are integrated with onboard processors, as well as wireless and mobile connectivity. These glasses provide data access and remote video capabilities.
Some of the benefits of these devices include virtual assistance, video collaboration, and video streaming. They are used in several industries, such as health care, the military sector, etc.
Google offers smart glasses for people with disabilities that allow them to send messages and express themselves through social media. The demand for AR technology in the defense sector is growing. This technology can be used to train soldiers to survive in critical conditions in different situations and places, as well as to develop their skills and provide them with real experience of military conditions.
In 2020, the US Army is testing the AR system, which will provide information on the location of enemies and their units. They are developing a system that will be mounted on a helmet to project all the information in the soldier’s line of sight.
Applications of this technology in the health sector provide advanced methods for analyzing and testing a patient’s disease. AR devices are used to describe the symptoms of patients, scan organs, and provide them with appropriate medication depending on the type of disease.
Several major players in the North American augmented reality market offer technologies that will support healthcare applications. For instance, Medsights Tech is developing software that will test the feasibility of AR technology when creating three-dimensional images of tumor reconstruction.
The introduction of this technology in the gaming sector is growing significantly in the AR North America market with rising entertainment costs for consumers and interest in games among young people. The region accounts for the bulk of revenues in the gaming sector.
North America is likely to dominate the global AR and VR market in 2020 – 2022. It is predicted that steady growth will be observed in North America, which will exceed US $ 2,200 million. Meanwhile, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, are also likely to remain profitable in the global virtual reality market. The growth of IT infrastructure and the growth of smartphone penetration is driving the growth of virtual reality in North America.
Extensive research and development, as well as the presence of key market players, especially in the United States, also contribute to the growth of virtual reality in North America.
The hardware base, usage scenarios, and commercialization are good indicators of the prospects for technological markets, including the VR/AR market. Although the US can succeed with VR, China is in a much better position to establish dominance in the much larger AR market. Thus, the one who occupies the AR market will also dominate the global AR/VR market if they ever come together.