AR and VR: Keys stats for immersive technology
Take up of augmented reality and virtual reality technology has been slow, but the innovative experiences offered by immersive technology has seen increasing interest from enterprises looking to integrate them into their toolkit.
For perspective, the AR market was worth just $1 billion in 2016, according to Dataprot, but with the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the industry between 2017 and 2024 at around 65%, it is set to reach $50bn by 2024. IDC states the combined AR and VR markets were worth $12bn in 2020 but with an annual growth rate of 54%, it is projected to hit $72.8bn by 2024.
So which sectors are investing most heavily in AR and VR technology?
In 2020, the global spend in AR technology amounted to $18.8bn, with gaming the core market ($12bn). Dataprot also alludes to healthcare (41%) and education (41%) as the industries that deem AR and VR most useful, with core benefits including access to information in real time, facilitation of training and mirroring real-life experiences, and the ability to enhance creativity in product design and enable remote workforce collaboration in real time – a necessity in this post-covid world we’re living in. But let’s dig a little deeper to understand how this burgeoning technology supports these sectors.
Under the spotlight
Virtual reality is “revolutionising” the way people play games, says publication Pixel Plex. It adds that VR replicates near enough exactly what you experience in the real world and allows players to interact with one another without being in the same room. Yet one set back the publication notes is that players must purchase AR and VR equipment to interact, and research from the Entertainment Software Association showed that out of 169 million gamers, only 29% of them owned a VR system.
In the healthcare sector, students have begun using “HoloScenarios” to simulate situations where they encounter patients with specific issues, according to the Medical Advice publication. The wannabe medics will then diagnose the patients, allowing them to experience symptoms without the jeopardy of a real case.
AR has also been developed on various apps to show nearby defibrillators in cases of emergency, and Google Glass conducted an eight-week trial with the Australian Breastfeeding Association to allow telephone counsellors to see through the eyes of mothers while they breastfeed at home.
From a healthcare workers’ perspective, nurses have been better able to locate veins by using a handheld scanner. Medtech startup AccuVein says AR technology has been used on more than 10 million patients, making detecting a vein the first time over three times more likely. The provision of AR also allows patients to see how drugs works in 3D right in front of their eyes instead of just reading descriptions on the bottle.
Schools with tools
A recent Lenovo study emphasised the appetite for AR/VR in education. It found that 54% of teachers and 41% of parents want an increased usage of virtual and augmented reality solutions in the classroom. The Chinese tech giant also deduced that 70% of teachers and parents said children had gained critical professional skills due to remote learning pushed amid Covid-19.
In response to the results, Lenovo launched its Digital Education Equity Programme in the latter part of 2021 which saw the firm equip schools will tools they needed to be able to increase their adoption of VR in the classroom. The programme was also encouraged by a study from Eduptopia, an education foundation, which found that VR in teaching could help students retain information up to 75% in comparison with 10% without the technology – making the decision to launch the programme a simple one.
Outside of these sectors, Finance Online found that the areas most anticipated to adopt immersive technology (including AR and VR) are workforce development (24%), manufacturing (21%), automotive (19%), marketing and advertising (16%), logistics/transportation (16%), retail (15%), military (13%), and commercial real estate (13%). And it appears this list will only continue to grow, with 91% of businesses already leveraging or planning to adopt it.
But with any nascent technology, there are still laggards, who have low adoption, investment, and satisfaction rates. Construction, for example, is seeing slow growth, only just seeing initial forays into the immersive world.
Construction World alludes to several use cases where the technology has been adopted: virtual collaboration design and engineering, whereby a Boston-based construction firm partnered with a VR startup to help its engineering teams coordinate, meet, plan and resolve issues virtually; project planning and design engineering, in which a London-based startup has developed helmet-mounted equipment that combines AR with Building Information Modeling (BIM) so that contractors can visualise the structures, removing the need for physical floor plans; and incorporating the use of smart glasses to allow site managers to walk through the project site enabling clients to remotely view project-progress. Yet if the sector wants to reap the benefits of this new technology, CW says it will need to invest more heavily in it.
When it comes to the factors hindering the growth of AR and VR adoption, content offerings (27%) is the lead obstacle, followed by user experience (19%), business and consumer reluctance (19%), regulation and legal risks (12%), the cost to consumers (11%), and financing and investment (9%), according to Data Prot.
The site says one of the biggest concerns for investors in VR startups include the lack of an established market for technology (46%), untested technology (38%), slow business adoption (38%), slow consumer adoption (32%), and lack of trusted teams and technologies to invest in (13%). And even though AR/VR tech is booming in a select few sectors, a recent study from global data notes that VR can lead to “accidents and induce nausea when used for long periods”.
Coburg University in Germany deduced from a separate study that not a single participant preferred to work in VR, due in part to nausea, inability to focus or just the sheer distracting weight of the headset on their heads.
A recent study from PwC strengthens the concerns that some businesses maintain. It says the lack of quality content deters customer interest which dissuades firm’s case for more AR and VR content. Additionally, few members of the public have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the technology, but perhaps most importantly, the cost of AR and VR systems is still “out of reach” for the average consumer, and some SMEs.
To truly leverage AR and VR, developments in other technologies may be needed to support its growth. And a YouTube video on the topic quite aptly captures the next steps needed for it to flourish: 6G.
It says an “integrated 6G network will not only connect humans to humans but it will also connect humans to machines, and machines to machines.” It adds that 6G will further expand geospatial coverage and improve the accessibility of connections to connect and freely transmit information between physical and digital worlds.
According to data and insight firm Technavio, AR and VR is still likely to prevail, but the increasing dependence of apps and proliferation of AR apps will also be one of the key drivers in driving the market growth.
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