Mixed reality, AR all set to take the world by storm

Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality aren't just concepts anymore - they've got real-world applications now and the world around us seems to want more of it.
10 April 2018

Microsoft’s HoloLens is one of the top products in the mixed reality devices market. Source: Microsoft

Augmented reality is an exciting technology – one that most of you will have experienced. In fact, it’s the technology behind Pokemon Go – the app that helped Niantic, Inc. cross the US$1 billion mark in terms of revenues in 2017. Earlier this year, the company announced that in the second half of 2018, it would launch a new AR-game based on Harry Potter.

However, AR is actually all around us – not just in the form of games but also in the form of robust and useful business applications. Whether it is Macy’s, Ikea, or Honeywell, customer-centric companies have embraced the technology to make life more comfortable, engaging, and intuitive.

Mixed reality (MR) – more sophisticated technologically and the successor to VR and AR technology – is also seeing widespread adoption. What exactly is it? Here’s how Microsoft describes it:

Mixed reality is the result of blending the physical world with the digital world. Mixed reality is the next evolution in human, computer, and environment interaction and unlocks possibilities that before now were restricted to our imaginations. It is made possible by advancements in computer vision, graphical processing power, display technology, and input systems.

According to a new Research and Markets report, the global AR & MR market will reach US$198.17 billion and US$3.68 billion, respectively, by 2025.

The competitive landscape for AR and MR devices is shifting towards a more aesthetically pleasing form factor which can be incorporated into the daily lives of consumers. These technologies are compatible with devices such as smart glasses, head-up displays, and head-mounted displays, among others.

Forecasts of AR and MR dominance are getting “real”

The market is rapidly expanding, driven by continuous advancements in technology and innovation. It has been home to changing market dynamics as the established players and new market entrants from various complementary industries try to capitalize on the gains from this lucrative market. The established presence of smartphones and tablets has been one of the major driving factors for the industry.

The impact for this driver is maintained for the next two to three years, owing to the aggressive infrastructural development pertaining to this industry. Investments from leading industry players and the vast presence of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have also contributed to the growth of the overall augmented reality and mixed reality market.

However, privacy issues and technical challenges such as limited battery life and image latency are some of the major concerns working against the massive proliferation of these headsets.

With the presence of industry stalwarts such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google, the AR and MR market is expected to transform all the present major industry verticals, while growing at a CAGR of 65.1 percent and 72.0 percent respectively, during the forecast period (2018-2025).

The device types that have been prevalent in the AR market include Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) and Head-Up Displays (HUDs) whereas the device type prevalent in the MR industry includes only HMDs.

In terms of revenue, HMDs generated more revenue than HUDs in 2017, with the primary reason being the widespread adoption of HMDs in application areas such as industrial, healthcare, automotive, aerospace and defense, among others, as compared to the limited usage of HUDs in the automotive and aerospace sector.

Who’s doing what with AR and MR

AR headsets are being utilized in all the major industry verticals including healthcare, aerospace and defense, education, engineering, warehousing and logistics, and enterprise solutions, among others.

Although the market for these devices is still evolving, more and more companies are experimenting with AR devices to increase their productivity and reduce downtimes.

The industrial sector dominates the MR industry, both in terms of value and volume, which can be attributed to increased application areas such as manufacturing and designing, construction, remote maintenance, and quality check, among others.

Geographically, North America dominated the global AR and MR market in 2017 and is expected to witness a strong growth during the forecast period, in terms of volume and value. This dominance is mainly due to the presence of prominent industry players such as Microsoft Corporation, DAQRI, and Magic Leap.

However, Asia Pacific is expected to witness the highest growth in the AR market during the forecast period (2018-2025). Europe, on the other hand, is expected to witness the highest growth in the MR market during the forecast period – according to Research and Markets.