The mainstream tech world is continuing to see an influx when it comes to both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) media. International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that AR and VR headsets could grow at a very strong pace from under 10 million units in 2016 to 100 million units five years from there, making for a CAGR of 57.7 percent. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Most people know about VR headsets and these devices certainly sell more than their AR siblings. The cheapest of these devices are screenless viewers, which consist of a headset that is powered by a smartphone. These are also the most purchased option, as people are still ware of the virtual reality trend to some extent. That said, the latter part of 2016 saw an increase in purchase of other devices, including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.
“The next six to 18 months will further stimulate the VR market as PC vendors, along with Microsoft, introduce tethered headsets and high-end standalone VR headsets also enter the market,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “With lower hardware requirements on the PC and lower prices on headsets, VR will be more accessible than ever before. And the introduction of additional motion tracking and hand tracking will help further blur the line between digital and physical reality.”
AR devices are less featured than VR, but some people believe that AR will, in the future, have a much larger impact on the industry and the world. Most customers will first experience this via a table or mobile phone, rather than a headset, something that ARKit by Apple supports even further.
“It is very clear to us that augmented reality is the larger of the two plays here when looking at AR and VR combined,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.
“Companies like Microsoft, Epson, Intel, Meta, ODG, and DAQRI are already providing devices that are being deployed in real-time commercial projects with significant ROI. The list goes well beyond that of other companies which have either deployed or are readying for deployment of similar devices. We believe that many industrial jobs will fundamentally change because of AR in the next 5-years, and these are much more opportunistic markets for dedicated AR headsets than the consumer market. We expect commercial shipments to account for just over 80% of all AR headsets shipped in the next 5 years.”
This all leads to what is going to be a very interesting decade ahead of us, as funding for more VR and AR goes on and consumers have the chance to experience both. It seems clear that neither technology is a passing fad, and instead represents a defining moment in the technology industry. It just depends on whether AR or VR resonate more what we can expect to see in future years. Either way, a reality that isn’t quite “real” is here and we might as well get used to it.