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Extended Reality (XR) technologies including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) are still in the early stages of adoption, but are rapidly evolving. While most use cases of virtual reality and augmented reality are still related to games, entertainment and social media, the variety of applications is expanding as more and more consumers and companies are testing immersive experiences.
Because the pandemic has forced many people to work, socialize, study and shop from home, they are using XR experiences to replace in-person ones. This year, 58.9 million people in the United States will use virtual reality and 93.3 million people will use augmented reality at least once a month.
Although virtual reality and augmented reality are different technologies that are developing at different rates, the pandemic seems to have galvanized the market for both.
Use of virtual reality and augmented reality impacted by COVID-19
The use of virtual reality and augmented reality has increased as more people stay home and pursue activities aligned with crowd avoidance and social distancing, including video games, entertainment consumption, participation in social virtual reality, use of augmented reality features on social media, and experiencing virtual try-ons, shopping, and 360-degree travel videos. For example, a June 2020 study conducted by Ipsos and the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) found that 58% of American children and adolescents spent more time with smartphones, 53% spent more time with video game consoles and 15% spent more time with virtual reality. helmets since the start of the pandemic. In general, people who owned VR headsets used them more; others explored helmetless options or considered buying helmets.
Extended Reality Trends
The shift to remote and virtual work, study, and other home-based activities has sparked interest in new, more useful applications of VR and AR beyond games. Virtual fitness, business collaboration, and distance learning are just three of many examples. With more development and more demand, virtual reality and augmented reality are increasingly seen as viable substitutes for in-person training, meetings, events, conventions, customer service, healthcare and other activities.
Top Companies Investing in XR
The pandemic has turned XR into an even bigger growth area for Big Tech. While Facebook is on its way to becoming the leader in virtual reality in the United States with its Oculus ecosystem, it is also investing in augmented reality. Other heavyweights, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, are all reportedly rushing to introduce their own VR, AR and/or MR solutions to grow the market and capitalize on growing demand.
5G VR Statistics
XR Developers are optimistic about the rollout of 5G wireless service, both in the US and around the world. High-speed 5G networks should eliminate many lingering technical difficulties and boost XR’s viability. In an April 2020 survey conducted by Toluna and Advertiser Perceptions on behalf of Verizon Media, 44% of US adults cited streaming VR content and 36% cited AR experiences as expected benefits of 5G technology. Similarly, a majority of adults in South Korea, the UK and the US found the idea of virtual reality and subscription-based augmented reality at least somewhat appealing, according to a Nokia poll from January. 2020 produced by Parks Associates. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents found subscribing to VR experiences appealing or very appealing, while 70% and 65%, respectively, said the same for AR experiences and VR sports.
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