Technology has been changing at a rapid pace in recent years, with a variety of innovations being released onto the market. While some of these have come and gone without making much of an impact, there are a few that continue to be successful.
Two of these have been augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which have continued to increase in popularity for the past five years or so. These have had quite a few significant effects on various industries, as well as entertainment.
Recently, there have been several trends that have begun affecting both AR and VR. While a few may have started a considerable amount of time ago, they’ve only just started making a larger impact with both technologies.
As a result, the trends look to continue becoming increasingly more obvious and impactful throughout 2021 and beyond.
Trends Affecting Augmented & Virtual Reality In 2021
Augmented With AI
AR and VR developers have started implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) into many of their apps. This can be highlighted with basic functions such as Instagram’s filter function, although it’s begun being implemented in a variety of larger capacities across different industries.
This has resulted in what’s known as computer vision, which allows devices to see and understand everything within a camera’s range. This has been somewhat basic over the past few years, although it’s expected that these will become increasingly sophisticated over the coming years.
This can be seen with Google’s machine learning-enabled microscope, which is becoming increasingly capable of identifying cancer cells in tissue samples. Coupled with VR and AR, this could make medical technologies increasingly more accurate and allow for more complex treatment and diagnostic tools.
This should also be seen in a variety of other industries, such as video games, with gamers facing increasingly smarter AI-driven opponents.
Impact On Training & Teaching
Both of the technologies have apparent benefits for teaching and training, with this being seen across schools and professional development courses. For example, people studying construction or any hazardous or complex areas can train without any of the risks that are typically involved with them.
By using VR, budding professionals in these industries will be able to train in a simulated environment that provides a significant degree of accuracy while avoiding the risks associated with making a mistake.
AR can also be a benefit, as employees will be able to practice objectives and tasks in real-time, which could improve their skills and overall productivity. These are areas that look to benefit further from the technologies in the future.
While this is a trend that has been around for much of AR and VR’s history, it looks to improve drastically over the coming years. This is because both have been relatively niche areas for the past several years, with many developers failing to find an app or hardware that has achieved commercial success.
With recent improvements in both hardware and software, however, this looks to be changing. As a result, both technologies are beginning to become much more accessible for consumer entertainment, which means that they should start to see much more success in the coming months.
Facebook’s recent purchase of Oculus has highlighted the fact that there could be room for the technology to become much more social in the future. This is something that a considerable number of other companies have seen and have begun targeting.
As a result, virtual conference calls, among others, are set to become much more common and collaborative. This means that users can expect to see and interact with people through their headsets, which can be used in both a business capacity and recreationally.
For companies, this means that remote workers can become increasingly more collaborative during meetings, with designs and documents being overlaid onto real-world objects. With the software becoming much more capable, you should expect that it will become more common in the coming years.
While fully autonomous cars may still be years away, this hasn’t meant that manufacturers haven’t been able to take advantage of a variety of new technologies. One of these has been augmented reality, with some companies beginning to implement it for a variety of reasons.
Much of this has been focused on safety, with the technology using AI and machine learning to point out any hazards that may be on the road. Alongside this could be any historical landmarks that drivers may want to be aware of.
This is done through the use of cameras and a dashboard-mounted display which can allow for additional graphics to be used without providing too much of a distraction for drivers.
Travel & Tourism
Virtual reality is having an impact on the travel and tourism industry, with this increasing alongside the popularity of devices. This is because many users can now experience a region without having to leave the comfort of their own homes.
Much of this has been focused on potential travelers testing a location before they spend the money to travel there. This allows people to get a better understanding of an area before they invest in a ticket and hotel room, with travelers being able to experience everything virtually before committing.
Alongside this is the fact that many VR apps allow users to re-experience their holiday after they’ve returned home. This has been a significant improvement on traditional photos, which makes it one of the bigger trends that may affect the industry in the years to come.
Content With Longevity
When both AR and VR technology was new, many developers jumped to take advantage of it and created a variety of apps and gimmicks that didn’t last very long. While these may have been popular, this was only for a drastically short period.
In the years since, this has changed, with content now being geared toward keeping users coming back. This longevity is something that is expected to continue impacting the niche, with the app and video game developers looking to attract and maintain large VR and AR markets.
Cost vs. Value
When first released, the majority of cutting-edge AR and VR technology cost thousands of dollars to buy. This was something that many people couldn’t afford, which often hindered the growth of the industry.
Alongside this, the technology was often of relatively low quality, especially by today’s standards, which meant that many consumers weren’t getting enough value for their money. This is something that has been inverted in recent years.
With the advancements that have been made in the industry, costs have plummeted while quality has skyrocketed, giving end-users much more value. This is something that is expected to continue in the future.
360 Degree Marketing
360-degree has started to become increasingly more popular as of late, although this was initially limited to pictures and images. With recent innovations in video, AR, and VR technology, however, this is slowly changing to include 360-degree videos that viewers can become fully immersed in.
This has led to an increasing number of brands start investing in the technology so that they can use it for a variety of purposes. Chief among these has been marketing. As this is a niche that’s only beginning to take off, you should expect that it will grow considerably over the coming years.
Over the past few years, consumers have begun looking for more and more immersive technologies, especially with both VR and AR. This is something that the majority of developers have started capitalizing on, thanks to improvements in both hardware and software.
This has meant that an increasing number of these companies have begun focusing on creating 3D environments and experiences rather than their traditional 2D counterparts. With consumers now expecting more of this, it’s something that will become an industry norm over the coming years, if not months.
AR & VR Stats and Growth Projections in 2021
Despite being a relatively young technology, the rise of AR and VR has been staggering, which is represented by a variety of surprising statistics. Similar to the trends mentioned above, many of these show no signs of going away or reducing anytime soon.
- Just over half of consumers, 53%, report that they’re interested in using VR or AR in the next three months.
- The AR and VR market had sold 8.9 million units by the end of 2018, which is expected to grow to 65.9 million by the end of 2022.
- AR and VR headset sales are expected to grow to $9.7 billion in 2021.
- Nearly half of consumers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that utilizes AR or VR.
- 70% of customers believe that AR can bring benefits.
- The AR market should grow to one billion users by the end of 2021.
- The majority of augmented reality users fall into the 16 to 34 age bracket.
- There are more AR users than VR users, with the technology being used by 8% and 13% of the population respectively.
- 47% of Apple ARKits were used for video games.
- The AR market is worth a purported $3.5 billion.
Virtual and augmented reality technologies shouldn’t be going away anytime soon; as the above statistics highlight, they look to continue growing over the coming years. Not only does this mean that we’ll see an increased number of companies operating within the niche, it means that companies outside of it will have to begin adapting.
This is especially true in areas such as marketing and retail, which will need to begin implementing the technology into strategies over the coming years. With the number of potential customers that the technology could attract, companies will miss out if it’s not properly taken advantage of.