As the virtual and Augmented Reality markets continue to soar, with the new technology drawing increasing interest across the entertainment world, the combined value of the sector is set to smash through the $170 billion barriers. The growth is not only fuelled by entertainment, however, as uptake of the visualisation tools takes off in a major way in the health, manufacturing and retail segments in particular.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have long been spoken of as the future of visual technology, with a number of increasingly optimistic forecasts anticipating a boom in sales and use over the coming years. The VR market burst through the $1 billion mark two years ago, thanks largely to a $300 million boom relating to video game sales in the innovative technology domain, while headset sales are predicted to approach 200 million units within the next two years.
However, it would be wrong to think of the meteoric rise of VR and AR as solely resulting from demand in the entertainment sector. The manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors are just some of the industrial environments in which the immersive technologies are being utilised in the name of training and education. Those working in engineering, for one example, can use AR for improved working on the job – based on the principle that the human mind processes technical information presented in a 3D format faster and more efficiently than having to translate it from a 2D perspective – while VR is becoming a mainstay of many training programmes for future A&E doctors, helping prepare practitioners for surgery using VR systems, before having to undertake the real-life version.
These new uses for the groundbreaking technology were the main subject of a study from international technology M&A advisory firm Hampleton Partners. In the firm’s latest review of global market technology trends, the firm found that in particular, AR and VR in healthcare is the hottest new sector for 2018. From genetic research and emergency room management to virtual nurses and drug discovery, patient experience can be improved and the cost of care lowered. According to the study, companies such as MindMaze are transforming healthcare, with products such as MindMotion – which uses the world’s first virtual environment neurorehabilitation system to support early motor rehabilitation and improve the recovery potential of patients.
Elsewhere, in manufacturing, Boeing is held up as a key example of the business applications of Google Glass, with the firm using it to boost the wire assembly process of its 78-7 Freighter. Using AR headsets, the company’s employees see the information right before their eyes, with video streaming and voice commands, making the process faster and more comfortable. Meanwhile, in the retail sector, e-commerce giant Amazon is pursuing Augmented Reality technology to fuel a new focus on auto parts, on top of the digital giant’s prior use of AR tech to allow customers to project renderings of furniture and electronics into their homes to help weigh up their size and fit.
Thanks to this growing variation in the applications of the technologies, Hampleton Partners researchers anticipate that the global market size of the VR sector will likely surpass $17 billion by 2022. The rise from its level of $2 billion in 2016 constitutes a 44.5% CAGR boom. AR, which previously boasted a market size of $4 billion is forecast to see an even higher growth trajectory on top of this. At a huge 85.4% CAGR, the AR market will reach a size of $161 billion in the next four years. With this in mind, demand among potential suitors looking to buy their way into the increasingly lucrative market is likely to go through the roof.
Remarking on the findings, Heiko Garrelfs, a Sector Principal at Hampleton Partners, said that while AR and VR’s technical roots tie it closely to the gaming industry, Hampleton Partners is finding that what is likely to fuel the major growth in this sector is its take-up in industry and manufacturing processes.
He added, “The new reality for many businesses will involve augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies to increase efficiency and improve customer service and employee engagement. Progress is slower than the optimists had hoped, yet it seems to be stronger and more sustainable than the pessimists predicted. The reality is that many businesses now need to have a full AR/VR strategy to ensure they are not left behind.”
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