Sales of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices are poised to reach USD 1.8 billion in 2018 with 22 million headsets sold this year. Smartphone VR headsets will account for most of the units shifted but the true value lies in dedicated headsets which will contribute two-thirds of a USD 9.9 billion market in 2022. Within 4 years it is anticipated there will be
five-fold growth with total units sold reaching 121 million, according to a recently released report from CCS Insight.
VR headsets have been the main source of growth in unit sales to date, and this will continue, particularly headsets that use a smartphone. However, standalone headsets are expected to ignite a new wave of growth that will help broaden the appeal of VR, particularly with businesses and in education.
Gaming continues to be the main driver behind sales and this is unlikely to change. It is estimated that 70 percent of those with a dedicated VR headset have purchased games, while more than half with a smartphone VR device have done so.
There are attempts within the industry to diversify. There is a growing array of exciting new content being developed. Virtual tourism, remote participation in events such as music concerts, and virtual social interactions are all emerging as further uses for VR. Watching video is also proving popular, particularly on smartphone-based headsets.
Although AR is generating a lot of interest, there has not been a lot of adoption to date, especially in businesses. Consumer and enterprise AR devices will develop independently and it is believed that as businesses move to wider deployments, there could be 1 million enterprise units sold in 2022, alongside 4.5 million consumer devices. Interest is mounting in AR glasses.
Billions of dollars are being invested in this technology and significant improvements are seen in the size, weight, and design of smart glasses over the past 12 months. The potential of this technology is clear, but so far most companies are evaluating a few units to see how the technology fits into their operations.