Is AR/VR market changing its fate with COVID-19?

Is AV/VR market fortunes changing amid COVID-19 pandemic

Hyderabad: The AR/VR market—collectively known as extended reality (XR)—has been on the cusp of becoming the next mainstream platform. But the augmented reality / virtual reality – AR/ VR market has remained a niche for many years due to technological limitations and scant content.

However, the COVID-19 global pandemic appears to have changed the technology’s fortunes—at least in the short-term—as homebound people search for ways to entertain themselves and connect with others, according to GlobalData‘s report.

The research note is based on GlobalData’s report titled ‘COVID-19: Interest in AR/VR Grows During Pandemic, But it May Not Be Sustainable Until the Market Evolves’

Whether the adoption trend of XR will hold up as most of the world becomes free to move about again remains to be seen, according to Lynnette Luna, Principal Analyst – GlobalData,

“But major events such as concerts, sporting competitions, and conferences will likely move ahead this year without live fans in attendance, giving XR the opportunity to shine. However, hardware and a complete XR ecosystem are still evolving,” added Luna.

Facebook, which has a vision of making AR/VR the next communications platform, said it attracted nearly $300 million in non-advertising revenue during Q1,2020 and that has come largely from sales of Oculus VR-products.

The Oculus Quest is Facebook’s full-featured, reasonably priced consumer VR headset, while the Oculus Rift S is a dedicated PC headset. Both products are facing shortages as stay-at-home orders and social distancing have disrupted production and the supply chain.

During Facebook’s conference call discussing quarterly earnings in April, CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that it’s possible the pandemic could kick off an acceleration for XR adoption.

“Regardless of the higher interest in early standalone VR headsets like the Oculus Quest, consumer adoption of solutions remains unknown,” commented Luna.

“The industry wants to reach a market that consists of standalone light-weight XR glasses with a plethora of experiences and applications. That is as long as 10 years away. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic should demonstrate what XR can do,” added Luna.

During the next decade, AR/VR is expected to take off in both the enterprise and consumer markets. It will enable users to work and experience entertainment in a hybrid digital/real-world space. But form factors have not evolved yet to make this a reality.

Old generations of headsets have been tethered to computers or relied on smartphones as displays. Now standalone viewers, such as Facebook’s Oculus, are becoming popular devices, especially during the pandemic as they can easily be connected to Wi-Fi.

Early 5G XR viewers will be tethered to smartphones until hardware makers develop lightweight standalone 5G XR glasses.

“With new high-speed, low-latency 5G networks coming to market, mobile operators are hoping AR/VR becomes a key application that sets their networks apart from today’s generation of wireless technology. But these are still the early days,” concluded Luna.

(Image source – PRNewswire)

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