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AR/VR Mainstream Adoption: Are We Finally There?

AR/VR Mainstream Adoption: Are We Finally There?

The tech industry has long been buzzing with excitement over augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), yet mainstream adoption rates have dampened over the past two years. 2024, however, could signal a turning point for AR/VR with the launch of new XR (Extended Reality) technologies.

New Age Toys

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), industry leaders unveiled an impressive lineup of XR technologies, including the Apple Vision Pro headset, Qualcomm chipset, and Xreal’s and TCL’s smart glasses, set to revolutionize the marketing landscape.

The rollout of these promising devices is expected to reignite interest in augmented reality/virtual reality technology, particularly within the business sector.

As Tuong Nguyen, director analyst at tech research firm Gartner, shared with Computerworld, “Announcements at CES and in general in this space will help spur the market and innovation required to create a comprehensive ecosystem, which will help the industry evolve [and increase adoption].”

Not Quite There Yet?

Unfortunately, augmented reality/virtual reality technology is still far from reaching mainstream adoption. According to forecasts by Statista Market Insights, the number of users engaging with AR/VR devices remains meager, with growth projections until 2027 falling short of making XR technology, including mixed reality, the “dominant computing platform.”

Notably, there’s little enthusiasm for AR/VR, especially among young consumers, according to Fortune. Only a small percentage of the population—less than 10%—currently engages with it. 

As experts pointed out, the hardware isn't the biggest roadblock to mainstream adoption; rather, it's the insufficient AR app and VR app content available. Business law firm Perkins Coie reports that 38% of consumers point to lack of content as the biggest challenge in adoption.

The Missing Link

Today, there’s no extensive ecosystem of content, services, and applications that can draw in more AR/VR users, deterring both consumers and enterprises from investing in these technologies. And since the majority of today’s consumers use mobile phones, the lack of accessibility of digital content and apps on other platforms poses a problem.

Certainly, making AR/VR technology more accessible to a broader audience is crucial to moving it toward increased acceptance.

“However, mainstream adoption might still be some time away, particularly as AR/VR consumer devices and apps are not yet widely considered mainstream but specialized and developer-centric,” explained Silvan Reinhold, head of technology at Rhythm.

New Space to Play

The emergence of new devices could renew interest in immersive technology this year, as major players like Apple, Google, and Samsung focus on developing hardware and applications aimed at expanding the relatively small AR/VR ecosystem.

An example of such an application is Sony's yet-to-be-named spatial content creation system for those in the entertainment and industrial design fields.

According to TechCentral, this system enables creators to build and interact with real-scale 3D models in an XR environment. It also supports integration with third-party 3D creation apps, allowing for remote, real-time creation and collaboration across multiple locations.

Said Bakadir, senior director of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., shared, “It’s exciting to see Sony enter the enterprise space with their spatial content creation system and utilize Snapdragon XR technologies to unleash more realistic, detailed, and precise mixed reality/virtual reality experiences that will help developers and creators push forward an even more immersive future.”

In recent years, vendors have learned a crucial lesson: direct-to-consumer selling is not the most effective approach to widespread adoption.

With XR content creation becoming increasingly accessible, more creators are expected to enrich and diversify the AR/VR content landscape in 2024. Moreover, in the coming months, there could also be heightened efforts to integrate these technologies into current phone-based applications and services to bolster adoption rates and bring the virtual world and real world closer together for a magic leap.