19.06.17

VR for the home, AR for the office

close-up of woman wearing VR headset and pointing

Augmented reality (AR) will become the domain of corporate enterprise and home consumers will be the ones to embrace virtual reality (VR) according to a forecast by market analysts IDC.

"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."

IDC believes the large opportunity for dedicated AR headsets exists in the commercial segment. A huge level of interest and investment is happening as we speak around vertical markets such as healthcare, manufacturing, field service workers, and design. Supporting this is a wide range of products, some of which are commercially available, but most are from non-household names.

AR and VR sales

Forecast data from IDC predicts dedicated AR and VR headsets are expected to grow at a very strong pace from just under 10 million units in 2016 to just shy of 100 million units in 2021, with a 5-year CAGR of 57.7%.

In terms of dedicated devices, AR continues to sit slightly in the background of VR. The reason for this is not that AR is less important, but rather it is harder to achieve. IDC believes VR headsets will continue to lead in terms of volume throughout the forecast, but maintains that AR in general will have a much bigger impact overall on the industry. Consumers are very likely to have their first AR experience via a mobile phone or tablet rather than a dedicated headset, and Apple's recent introduction of ARKit further supports this.