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Extended reality (XR): AR, VR, and MR in the United States - statistics & facts

Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) are the cornerstones of the extended reality (XR) field. XR technologies extend the reality we experience by either merging the virtual and the “real” worlds, or by creating a fully immersive experience. On a global level, the XR market is predicted to be worth 31 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, with forecasts suggesting that this is likely to grow to 300 billion U.S dollars by 2024. In the U.S., the number of AR/VR users surpassed the 135 million mark in 2020 and is forecast to approach 150 million in 2021. AR/VR is projected to bring about economic benefits for the U.S. too: XR technologies are forecast to boost gross domestic product (GDP) in the country by 49 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, rising to more than 120 billion U.S. dollars by 2024.

XR devices

XR technologies are typically enabled by the use of AR and VR headsets, markets that are both expected to grow through 2021. The coronavirus pandemic resulted in an uptake of AR headset devices to support remote collaboration and telemedicine services, with U.S. AR headset vendors such as Microsoft and Vuzix set to benefit further as these trends continue into 2021. For VR headsets, a decline in sales in 2020 was caused, in part, by some of the major VR devices coming toward the end of their product life-cycle. However, the launch of new VR headsets will see the market rebound strongly in 2021, led by major U.S. firms such as Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Facebook-owned Oculus. In addition, advancements in AR/VR chip technology will provide mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as a range of wearables, the ability to deliver immersive audio and visuals in a way previously unimaginable.

XR applications

Improvements to XR hardware, coupled with developments in software applications and connectivity, will support the growing adoption of XR across a range of sectors in the U.S. and beyond. Healthcare, education, and workforce development are expected to be most disrupted by XR technologies. The U.S. military has also outlined its plans to further utilize immersive technologies, particularly for training and maintenance purposes.

The growth of 5G in the U.S. will help support this further, highlighted by the 600 million U.S. dollar Pentagon program to test the use of 5G connectivity for high-tech applications. Participating in the program is Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, where the focus will be on the ability of 5G to support AR/VR in mission planning and enhanced training exercises. This sector, in addition to many others, has recognized the growing potential of XR, especially when combined with key technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence (AI).

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Extended reality (XR): AR, VR, and MR in the United States

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