Virtual, augmented and mixed reality products have continued to receive high levels of funding and investment during the 2010 decade. There has also been immense hype over these products during the decade, with evangelists of the technology believing that it will be used in all aspects of day to day life. The growth of the technology over the COVID period has been noticeable, with many new use cases for the technology. IDTechEx predicts that this technology will grow to over $30bn by 2030. This article aims to explain the growth in demand behind this exciting technology.

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What are some examples of augmented reality or mixed reality headsets?

The major players in the virtual reality market are Oculus and Vive headsets. There are many different use cases for virtual reality headsets, but one key application is for training in extreme environments. A virtual reality headset can model the different aspects of a dangerous environment without the trainee having to enter a difficult real-life situation.

Within augmented reality, the players are more broad. There are also more use cases, specifically in enterprise and industry, where augmented reality headsets provide a hands-free environment. Most augmented reality headsets are standalone, and have the computing power on the headset itself. This can provide a safer environment for workers who would otherwise have to carry a tablet to monitor/enter data as they work.

What is Augmented and Virtual Reality Technology?

The basic definition of these terms are as follows:

  • Virtual reality (VR). This replaces reality with a completely new 3D digital environment.
  • Augmented reality (AR). This overlays digital content on top of the real world.
  • Mixed reality (MR). This adds superimposed digital content that superficially interacts with the environment in real-time.

What industries are using this technology?

There are a broad range of use cases and industries using augmented, mixed, and virtual reality technology. For example, manufacturing, remote assistance, education, and training, to name but a few. These applications are used in many different industries. Two common use cases are discussed.

One of the most well-known uses of VR headsets is in gaming applications. Companies such as Oculus, HTC, and Sony, have created a range of products which consumers can use for a totally immersive gaming experience. However, there are also other applications for XR products such as remote assistance and training. This report from IDTechEx includes analysis of many key leaders in the AR, VR and MR fields, and provides you with a deeper understanding for the various applications for such products.

AR and MR products are being used to solve the “Skills Gap” problem. This problem occurs when skilled workers retire, and with them, their skilled knowledge they have gained. This knowledge needs to be transferred to new workers. The skilled workers can record workflows and processes which the new employees can follow in a safe hands-free environment. Furthermore, they can annotate the real world with technical specifications to aid the worker. Some companies, such as Vuzix, use their own products on their assembly floors.

What is the impact of COVID-19?

Recently the versatility of mixed and augmented reality products has come to the forefront of the news, with an Imperial led project at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Doctors have been wearing the Microsoft Hololens headsets whilst working on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, to aid them in their care for their patients.

COVID has put the spotlight on this hands-free, interactive technology, and it is unlikely that this focus will move for some time. There will be a need for this technology in many new use cases, which previously did not require hands-free, or remote capabilities.

What will I learn from the report? 

The IDTechEx report “Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality 2020-2030: Forecasts, Markets and Technologies” covers one of the key markets of the future: the AR/VR/MR market. VR, MR, and AR products are used in many different settings, for example, for day-to-day workflow management and on production lines.  This market, which IDTechEx forecasts to be over $30Bn by 2030, will impact many different industries, and future innovations will continue its growth in the wearables market. The report reviews and analyzes over 100 products and details of over 80 companies, to create concise and detailed conclusions about the future of this market.

This report includes market forecasts, player profiles, investments, and comprehensive company lists are provided. This report is an essential read for those looking for a deep understanding of the AR/VR/MR markets.