Dizzying growth is on the cards for augmented and virtual reality headset sales, according to research house IDTechEx, which says the market will reach $37bn by 2020.
The market for AR, VR and mixed reality headsets has been tipped for boom-time not only in the consumer sector, but also in verticals such as education, construction and medical.
Hot on the heels of Microsoft selecting its first three UK partners to carry its mixed reality device, Hololens, IDTechEx has predicted that the market will mushroom by more than tenfold over the next decade, from $3.4bn to $37bn.
Its research looks at not only AR, VR and mixed reality devices, but also devices labelled under other terms including ‘annotated reality' and ‘augmented virtuality'.
How these devices are categorised hinges on how much of the real world is allowed to come through the headset, IDTechEx principal analyst Dr Harry Zervos explained.
"A pure VR headset blocks out reality completely, while an AR one will only superimpose additional information, without obstructing the wearer's view of the real world at all," he said. "What the future is bringing is a spectrum of eye-worn devices with varying amounts of reality and virtuality thrown in; for instance, a VR headset with a front facing camera can instantly become an AR headset, as it allows the wearer a full view of the real world, albeit through a display."
According to Zervos, the market will be propelled in the short term by growth of VR devices that are tethered to an external PC.
"From 2021 onwards, growth will be transferred to standalone AR, propelled forward by the launch of high performing headsets and reduced power consumption that will lead to longer battery life and independence from the grid," he added. "Standalone VR will also make its mark, although its exact value proposition is not fully clear or even distinctly separate from standalone AR."
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