Many people think of virtual reality and augmented reality as futuristic technologies that are inaccessible to most consumers. In the past, the average consumer may not have had the opportunity to experience these technologies, but that’s all changed over the last several years. In fact, International Data Corporation, a global research firm, recently declared that virtual and augmented reality have officially gone mainstream.
How are virtual reality and augmented reality used today? What does the current virtual and augmented reality market look like–and what will it look like in the future? Here’s everything you need to know:
How Are Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Technologies Currently Used?
Both virtual and augmented reality technologies have been embraced in countless industries, including:
Virtual and augmented reality technologies are often associated with the gaming industry, and it’s not hard to see why. There are hundreds of different virtual reality and augmented reality games that are accessible via a headset, smartphone, or tablet.
One of the most well-known augmented reality games is Pokemon Go, which is an app where users can search for and capture Pokemon characters in their real world environment. This app gives consumers the opportunity to experience augmented reality technology using their smartphone.
Half-Life: Alyx is one of the most popular virtual reality games. In this survival game, players must go on missions to seize weapons from aliens. Unlike Pokemon Go, Half-Life: Alyx is not accessible via a smartphone. Players must use a virtual reality headset.
These technologies have transformed many aspects of the automotive industry. Both virtual and augmented reality technologies are now used to speed up the design and production of new vehicles.
On the assembly line, workers can use these technologies to quickly access information they need to perform their job duties.
Many automotive companies have also used these technologies to create virtual showrooms, which are online showrooms that consumers can visit to explore cars in lieu of a trip to the dealership.
Automotive manufacturers are also using augmented reality technology to enhance in-car features. In fact, some cars are now designed with an augmented reality heads-up display, which presents information to drivers directly onto their windshield.
Both augmented and virtual reality are widely used in the healthcare industry, too. Some healthcare professionals use virtual reality technology to treat anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions. This technology allows healthcare professionals to put their patients in simulated environments where they can work to resolve their issues.
Both technologies are also used to train aspiring healthcare professionals. This gives aspiring healthcare professionals the opportunity to train in an environment where mistakes don’t carry grave consequences.
Numerous retailers have used virtual and augmented reality technologies to enhance marketing campaigns and generate buzz around new product launches and events.
Retailers have also used these technologies to improve the in-store and online shopping experience for consumers. For example, many retailers now use augmented reality technology to give consumers the chance to try on or test out products online before they buy them. Online shoppers can now see how they would look in a specific product prior to purchasing it.
Thanks to augmented reality, in-store shoppers in certain retailers can use their smartphones to quickly access information on products they are interested in purchasing. All they need to do is point their camera at the product to pull up relevant information.
The Future of the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Market
International Data Corporation predicts that the virtual reality, augmented reality, smart home, and wearables market will reach $369.6 billion by the end of 2021. The researchers at International Data Corporation also believe that this combined market will grow exponentially over the next few years. They predict that this market will be valued at nearly $525 billion by the year 2025.
The virtual reality and augmented reality segment of the market will account for most of this growth. According to these researchers, the virtual and augmented reality category will experience a 67.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2020 to 2025. Researchers predict that the virtual and augmented reality category of the market will be valued at over $18 billion by 2025.
In short, these experts believe that the future of the augmented and virtual reality market is bright.
Who Are the Major Players in the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Market?
There are countless companies that are currently doing business in the virtual reality and augmented reality market. However, a handful of companies dominate the market, including:
- Facebook: Facebook is a leader in the virtual reality market thanks to its line of Oculus headsets. The company has also invested heavily in augmented reality products for Facebook, Instagram, and other social media apps within the Facebook family.
- HTC and Valve: These two companies teamed up to produce one of the most popular lines of virtual reality headsets on the market, the HTC Vive.
- Apple: Apple’s ARKit makes creating new augmented reality apps easier than ever before. Thanks to this kit, augmented reality apps are more accessible to consumers. There are also rumors that Apple will release an augmented reality headset in the near future.
- Google: Similar to Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore simplifies the process of designing new augmented reality apps. Google also entered the virtual reality space with Google Cardboard, a virtual reality platform.
- Microsoft: Microsoft’s HoloLens is a virtual reality and augmented reality headset. Unlike other headsets, the HoloLens does not require the use of a computer or controller.
What Factors Are Driving Growth in the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Market?
A number of factors are responsible for driving growth in the virtual and augmented reality market, including:
- New Applications
- Remote Collaboration
- Device Compatibility
Companies across various industries have found new and exciting ways to use virtual and augmented reality technologies. These technologies are now used to provide unique learning experiences for students in classrooms, train aspiring healthcare professionals, improve the efficiency of designing new vehicles, and make online shopping easier for consumers.
Every time a new application is discovered, the demand for augmented and virtual reality technologies increases. As long as companies continue to explore the use of these technologies, the market will continue to grow.
Demand for augmented and virtual reality technologies increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, most companies had no other choice but to allow workers to work from home. Despite their physical distance, remote workers still needed to collaborate with one another, which is why they turned to virtual and augmented reality for help.
These technologies are now used to bring people together regardless of how far apart they are. Both technologies make it easier for teams to collaborate even if they are located across the globe from one another. Experts predict that the remote work trend won’t die down even when the pandemic is over. In this case, the need for remote collaboration tools will drive a significant amount of growth in the virtual and augmented reality market.
Most virtual reality experiences are only accessible via a specially designed headset such as the Oculus or HTC Vive. However, consumers can now access a wide range of augmented reality experiences using only their smartphone, tablet, or computer. They can download augmented reality apps directly on the device they already own. There’s no need for them to spend hundreds of dollars on a special device to enjoy augmented reality technology.
More consumers will be introduced to this technology because it is so accessible. They will finally start to see the many benefits that augmented reality technology has to offer. Over time, this will lead to a higher adoption rate and drive growth in the market.
What Challenges Will the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Market Face?
Even though it is expected to grow exponentially, the virtual and augmented reality market will face a few challenges along the way, including:
- High Development Costs
- Business vs. Consumer Use
High Development Costs
Experts predict that one of the main challenges the market will face is high development costs. Developing headsets and the virtual reality and/or augmented reality platforms to support these devices requires a lot of capital. Larger companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Google won’t have any trouble coming up with the necessary capital. However, the high development costs could make it harder for smaller companies to enter the market, which could affect the market’s ability to grow.
Business vs. Consumer Use
Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies will not truly go mainstream until they have been adopted by the vast majority of consumers. But unfortunately, it’s currently businesses, not consumers, that are driving most of the growth in this market. This is because businesses have found ways to reduce operating costs and increase efficiency by using these technologies. To take these technologies mainstream, it’s important for companies to get more consumers on board and excited about using them.
Despite these challenges, experts believe that the virtual and augmented reality market will experience significant growth in the years ahead.