It’s hard to shake the image that VR remains something of a gimmick, yet I recently covered research revealing that 21% of families with children own a VR device of some kind. This apparent widespread adoption has been backed up by recent data from research firm CCS Insight, who forecast that 22 million VR and AR headsets and glasses will be sold in 2018. What’s more, they expect this to balloon to 121 million units by 2022. Overall, it’s a market worth $1.8 billion today.
They predict an annual growth of around 50% per year for the next five years, with much of this growth driven by smartphone-based units.
“Virtual reality headsets have been the main source of growth in unit sales to date, and we expect this will continue, particularly headsets that use a smartphone. However, we expect stand-alone headsets like the Oculus Go and HTC Vive Focus to ignite a new wave of growth that will help broaden the appeal of virtual reality, particularly with businesses and in education,” the company say.
Most of the applications of VR technology remain leisure based, with gaming the primary driver of sales. This is expected to remain so for the next few years, with 70% of VR customers having bought games for the platform. They do believe that the number of use cases is growing however.
“There’s a growing array of exciting new content being developed. We were encouraged to see in our latest consumer survey that virtual tourism, remote participation in events such as music concerts, and virtual social interactions are all emerging as further uses for virtual reality. Watching video is also proving popular, particularly on smartphone-based headsets,” they say.
There is less success in the adoption of the kind of smart glasses that power augmented reality, especially among business users. Just 24,000 smart glasses were bought by businesses in 2017, but most of these have been deployed in early-stage trials. As use cases emerge however, this demand is expected to grow, to the extent that CCS Insight predict that 1 million units will be sold by 2022.
The researchers believe this will eventually result in specific enterprise-centric products being developed that differ from their consumer-centric peers.
“We’re encouraged by the technology developments in smart glasses for consumers. Products such as Intel’s Vaunt glasses are a clear signal of the direction these devices are moving in, with a design little different from a pair of standard prescription glasses. It only takes a big company like Apple to jump into the market and we could be looking at market of millions of smart glasses in no time at all,” they conclude.