It’s now abundantly clear that VR/AR technologies are here to stay.

After Facebook poured $2 billion into Oculus and Google invested $542 million in the AR company Magic Leap, this new industry started getting a lot more attention.

But for the average consumer today, VR/AR technologies might seem far away. Sure, everyone knows what virtual reality is, but many have no idea that they can actually own the experience right now. And when it comes to AR, people will soon have their minds blown.

As VR/AR technology moves forward, more consumers will get their hands on the products and that will drive even further advancements. But just how certain are industry experts, and what can we reasonably expect from the future of simulated reality experiences?

Projections for the Near Future

More than ever, investors are shaping the future.

VR and AR saw investments of over $1.1 billion in the first two months of 2016 alone. $793.5 million of that $1.1B was made up of a single investment in the AR powerhouse Magic Leap.

8 of the top 10 tech companies in the world have invested in VR/AR including:

  • Apple
  • Samsung
  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Google
  • HP
  • Foxconn

According to industry analysts, VR/AR is “the next technology megatrend, the next evolution of computing, and […] has the potential to be as profound a technology platform as the smartphone today.”

Analysts at Digi-Capital say the VR/AR industry will reach $150 billion in revenue by 2020. Projections like these are why 75 percent of respondents to an industry survey say they have full confidence in the future of VR.

The explosive growth of VR/AR will also have a huge impact on the global economy. A May 2015 report from investment bank Piper Jaffray described virtual reality as “the next major tech theme” and compared the trend to the rise of mobile phones 15 years ago.

Investopedia created a list of the 10 major stocks that stand to benefit from the rise of these technologies:

  • Facebook
  • Sony
  • Alphabet
  • GoPro
  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • Qualcomm
  • Disney
  • Nvidia

Forecasts for VR/AR adoption do vary somewhat wildly. ABI research estimates 52.4 million VR and AR global unit shipments in 2016-2018, with 35.7 million for VR and 16.7 million for AR. On the other hand, KZero predicts 80.2 million VR units will be shipped in 2016-2018, at $10.9 billion profit.

Either way, industry projections for VR/AR are undeniably strong. Investors will continue pouring money into development. And with new applications being realized every day, the technology will only continue to grow.

New Applications for VR and AR

Much like smartphones and tablets, VR/AR are expected to emerge as platforms for a huge range of applications for companies worldwide. Businesses across a wide variety of industries are beginning to recognize that these technologies can offer many benefits.

Industrial Renderings

stateoftheart2

One of the major driving forces behind VR/AR is industrial design. When new products are in the spec phase, artists have always had to use pencil and paper or crude 2D models.

But with today’s rendering software, full 3D models can be viewed in the immersive virtual space of VR or simulated before your eyes through AR.

As worldwide industries see the huge benefit of having photorealistic depictions of products before ever spending a dime on manufacturing, VR/AR will certainly take over.

Healthcare

stateoftheart3

The global market for AR and VR in the healthcare industry is expected to grow from $280 million in 2013 to around $641 million in 2018.

AR apps are now being used in the healthcare industry for various applications. Surgeons and doctors are using AR for pre-operation assessment, medical simulations, minimally invasive surgery, and rehabilitation.

Virtual reality is being applied to fully immersive 3D simulations for doctors, dentists, and nurses as a diagnostics tool.  It’s also used now for patients undergoing treatment for PTSD, phobia control, and autism treatments.

The Broad Effects on Consumers

The strong effect VR/AR will have on the economy is practically a certainty, but experts are now seeing the benefits the technologies may have on society at large.

  1. VR/AR will make us healthier. Research shows VR can effectively teach better health practices by showing users the effect of poor health choices on their future selves.
  2. VR/AR will make us smarter. Experts in the education field predict VR and AR will have huge social benefits like higher learning gains, increased student motivation, and better interaction and collaboration.
  3. VR/AR will make us better people. Research has found that immersive virtual experiences can encourage racial sensitivity, empathy for people with disabilities, respect for the environment, and an increased willingness to help others.

The Road Ahead

The majority of people purchasing VR/AR products this year will have their first ever experiences with simulated experiences. And with the 2016 releases of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony’s Playstation VR, and possibly Microsoft’s HoloLens, these technologies will be in more households than ever before.

The viability of VR/AR as platforms for the future of entertainment and industry is backed up by all of these major endorsements and others. Highly-trusted institutional investors are supporting the rhetoric of excited journalists with hundreds of millions of dollars to help shape the future.

So, as advancement and investment continue to rocket forward into the future, the VR/AR experience will soon become an integral part of our world. If you’re interested in learning more about what VR/AR can do for you and your business, contact RenderThat today.