Virtual Reality: We Are Waiting

By Mat Dirjish

On the topic of virtual reality (VR) technology, research firm IDTechEx quotes the great Bard of Avon: To be, or not to be. But the question is not if VR will become a reality or when, it’s more or less in what form. Because VR strongly aligns with augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR), it may be a bit tricky to predict which direction this market takes. As per the researchers, this is because the definition of each has become saturated in the past decade, with companies using their own definitions for each to describe their products.

IDTechEx accents the acronym XR, a term that’s become more prominent in the last few years. It encapsulates virtual, augmented, and mixed reality topics. The company’s report, “Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality 2020-2030”, distils this range of terms and products, compares their inherent technologies, and assembles a 10-year market forecast. The report provides discussions about 83 companies and 175 products in VR, AR, and MR and specifically discusses findings on the virtual reality market.

Virtual reality involves creating a simulated environment that users can perceive as real, achieved by stimulating the various senses with appropriate signals. Generating realistic virtual environments requires the creation of appropriate stimuli and systems to direct how the stimuli should change, whether automatically or due to user interaction. This relies on a variety of components and systems including displays, optics, sensors, communication and processing, delivered via both hardware and associated software.

IDTechEx claims there are three main groups of VR headset: PC VR, Standalone VR, and Smartphone VR.

  1. PC VR includes a user interface and display worn on the body and computing and power offload to an external computer. Allegedly, this is group currently creates the largest amount of commercial hardware revenue today.
  2. Standalone VR is a dedicated standalone device with all required computing and components on board.
  3. Smartphone/mobile VR uses the smartphone processor, display, and sensors to create the VR experience, requiring only one inexpensive accessory to convert to VR.

The report discusses the revenue split for these three sectors in full, and an example image appears in the figure below.

The overall VR market is expected to grow, as shown in the plot. The full image is available in the report “Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality 2020-2030”. Source: IDTechEx (www.IDTechEx.com/ARVR)

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