Extended reality (XR) technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) are still in the early phases of adoption, nevertheless they are evolving quickly.
While currently most use cases for VR and AR are still related to gaming, entertainment, and social media, the variety of applications is expanding as more consumers and businesses test out immersive experiences.
The pandemic has forced many people to work, socialize, study, and shop at home, hence they’re using XR experiences to replace in-person ones.
Though VR and AR are different technologies growing at different rates, the pandemic appears to have galvanized the market for both.
1. VR and AR usage impacted by COVID-19
VR and AR usage has increased as more people stay home and pursue activities aligned with crowd avoidance and social distancing, including video gaming, consuming entertainment, participating in social VR, using AR features on social networks, and experimenting with virtual try-ons, virtual shopping, and 360-degree travel videos. In general, people who owned VR headsets used them more; others explored non-headset options or considered buying headsets.
2. Extended reality trends
The move to remote and virtual work, studying, and other home-based activities has created interest in new and more useful applications of VR and AR beyond gaming. Virtual fitness, business collaboration, and distance learning are just three of many examples. With more development and more demand, VR and AR are increasingly being seen as viable replacements for in-person training, meetings, events, conventions, customer service, healthcare, and other activities.
3. Top companies investing in XR
The pandemic has turned XR into an even more important growth area for Big Tech. While Facebook is on its way to becoming the VR leader in the US with its Oculus ecosystem, it is also investing in AR. Other heavy hitters, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung, are all reported to be racing to introduce their own VR, AR, and/or MR solutions to grow the market and capitalize on increasing demand.
4. 5G VR stats
XR developers are optimistic about the rollout of 5G wireless service around the world. Higher-speed 5G networks are expected to eliminate many persistent technical difficulties and boost XR’s viability.