By Stephanie Cooper

Pokémon Go’s popularity may be on the decline, but it was just the beginning of a booming growth period for augmented reality and virtual reality technology, according to a new analyst report.

Recent data released in the Worldwide Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide by IT consultant firm IDC Canada projects that the augmented reality and virtual reality market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion in 2020, with a compounding annual growth rate of 181.3 per cent during the forecast period. The data focuses on three major device categories: screenless viewers, tethered head-mounted displays (HMDs) and standalone HMDs.

IDC expects AR/VR hardware sales will generate more than 50 per cent of worldwide hardware, software and services revenues for the 2015-2020 forecast period. Krista Collins and Manish Nargas, IDC analysts specializing in mobility and consumer communications, tell ITBusiness.ca there are short and long-term opportunities for AR/VR devices.

Many industries will benefit from VR/AR application, Nargas says. In the short term there will be growth in film and television, social AR/VR games (like Pokémon Go) and in retail like virtual online shopping. Eventually, AR will impact healthcare and automotive industries.

“There are a lot of opportunities to integrate VR and AR to really rethink how we live our lives, whether or not that’s for work purposes or personal purposes,” says Collins.

Ryan Pamplin, Meta’s vice-president of sales and partnerships, agrees with IDC’s spending forecast for AR/VR hardware. Meta’s prototype, Meta 2, is a developer-kit model meant for programmers, but the long-term business plan is to sell a product on the consumer market.

Meta’s AR glasses aim to create a better way for the world to connect digitally without getting disconnected physically, Pamplin says. Meta OS allows the user to see digital content and keep eye contact with other humans at the same time. Meta wants to give users a machine that works as a natural extension of themselves.

“I know this technology is going to profoundly change the way people interact with the digital world, their environment and more importantly, each other.”

Meta isn’t trying to tailor its device to any particular industry, he adds.

“We’re not vertically focused at all. We want to create a tool that is generalizable across the board, across play, across learning, across shopping.”

While AR/VR devices strive to connect us with the digital world, users need to be aware of the safety risks that pose big issues for VR and AR development.

“There have been challenges that we’re starting to overcome. People feeling nauseous when they are in VR experience,” said Collins.

Virtual reality technology comes with one major disadvantage, VR sickness. It causes symptoms similar to motion sickness such as, headache, nausea, disorientation and vomiting.

Pamplin says VR sickness is a very serious issue, one Meta hasn’t experienced with its AR headset.

“You don’t get sickness in AR like you would in VR,” Pamplin said. In Meta’s thousands of demos, he’s never seen anyone made sick.

Pamplin says that as frame rates and positional tracking improve, VR sickness will cease to exist as well, but we’re not there yet.

 

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