XR: AR, VR, and the metaverse - statistics & facts
Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for all immersive technologies including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR), plus those that are yet to be created. XR technologies extend the reality we experience by either merging the virtual and “real” worlds or by creating a fully immersive experience. The global XR market is expected to grow considerably in the coming years, with XR innovation expected to be strong in the United States and across Asia, notably in Japan and China, as well as Germany and the United Kingdom in Europe.
XR headsets and companies
AR makes use of the existing environment by overlaying new information on top of it, whereas VR creates an artificial environment. In both AR and VR, the information or imagery is typically made available to the user using a headset. XR headset vendors include Meta (Oculus), Pico, Sony, and HTC who offer VR devices, while Microsoft, Magic Leap, and Vuzix offer AR headsets and glasses. In addition to these firms, LG and Qualcomm have ranked as the leading owners of XR patents, with chipmaker Qualcomm joining forces with a coalition of telecommunications providers around the world to establish the Global XR Content Telco Alliance to develop 5G-based AR/VR content.
Experts suggest that improvements to XR hardware, such as the introduction of smaller and more comfortable devices, coupled with developments in software applications and connectivity, will support the growing adoption of XR across a range of sectors. Healthcare, manufacturing, and the automotive industry are expected to be among the most disrupted by XR technologies. As technology improves further, the use cases of XR will widen and strengthen, with the economic benefits of XR expected to be felt worldwide.
Perceived to be the next iteration of the internet, the metaverse is where the physical and digital worlds come together. The evolution of social technologies allows digital representations of people, avatars, to interact with each other in a variety of settings. Whether it be at work, in an office, going to concerts or sports events, or even trying on clothes, the metaverse provides a space for endless, interconnected virtual communities. Already, several companies including Meta, Microsoft, Roblox, and Epic are investing in their versions of the metaverse. However, the development of the metaverse will require collaboration across companies, creators, and policymakers.
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Research expert covering the global hardware industry