The virtual reality industry will be worth $15.89bn by 2020, according to a newly released report by market research agency Research and Markets.
Despite the fact the most high-profile VR device, the Oculus Rift, has not yet been released to consumers, Research and Markets believes that the industry will see over 60% growth every year for the next five years, transforming it from a fringe technology enjoyed by the techy few into a major medium for gaming, entertainment and business.
The report, which treats augmented reality technologies such as Microsoft HoloLens as a subset of the VR market, also predicted that fully immersive VR headsets would prove to be more popular, and thus form a larger part of the market, than their AR cousins.
While VR is set to see growth around the world, it is thought that North America will see the fastest growth of the industry, with the Asia-Pacific region coming in second.
Some of this growth is undoubtedly going to be down to the release of new headsets and adoption of the technology, but the explosion of software for VR, one of the biggest catalysts for the industry’s projected increase in value, is set to play a major role.
A lot of this software is going to be targeted at consumers, with a surge in both entertainment and gaming software set to be on the way.
But there is also likely to be a rise in business, industrial and medical applications, with the report specifically highlighting VR’s potential for both healthcare and training.
However, while Research and Markets projects major growth for VR by 2020, the company has also highlighted limitations with the technology that will put some users off and thus hamper its growth.
In particular the low resolution and limitations on how much a wearer can move their head were identified as major restraints, as it is thought they will limit how immersive the technology can be; those of us who have used Oculus’ developer versions may well disagree.
There were also concerns about display latency and the level of energy consumption by VR devices, which may reduce the technology’s performance. Not all consumers have powerhouse computers, and many will be expecting to get good results using their laptop, regardless of how unfeasible this may be.
However, while the first generation of consumer VR devices is just around the corner, by 2020 we will no doubt be working with far more sophisticated – and hopefully less energy intensive – headsets, and by then many of these concerns may seem like distant memories.