At the major Consumer Electronics Show CES, which took place in Las Vegas in early January, a company from California called DigiLens presented the second generation of its technology that allows the creation of 3D viewing glasses. The startup says the innovation simplifies the most complex and expensive part of 3D hardware. The idea is to make mass production possible, at a consumer-friendly price, of devices that “would be essential” for Extended Reality (XR).
Experts define XR as an extension of our reality through immersive technologies, that is, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The term includes all innovations capable of expanding our perception of what is around us, for example, by juxtaposing images using a device similar to a smartphone, projecting holograms with transparent glasses or accessories that transport us to virtual worlds.
The launch of the DigiLens at CES 2022 was one of many that went through the stage of the Big Show in Las Vegas. Qualcomm has announced that it will provide chips for Microsoft’s augmented reality glasses in the future, which are thinner and lighter than the current HoloLens, which are largely focused on the commercial sector. TCL has unveiled the Leiniao augmented reality glasses, which are transparent and wireless, and will respond to voice and touch commands. A company called Mojo Vision has announced that it has raised $45 million in funding to develop contact lenses for augmented reality. Several other companies have offered ideas, products, or calendars facing the XR space, illustrating how the desire in this market is growing exponentially.
This is not just the emergence of advanced devices and technology. In March, consultancy Accenture published a report describing the creation of its virtual office “Nth Floor,” which employees enter using immersive technologies, and highlighting the “tremendous potential” of XR in future work and education models.
Just last week, Autodesk announced its acquisition of The Wild, a Colorado-based XR platform with 700 customers worldwide. Andrew Anagnost, CEO of the software giant, noted the importance of this purchase for Autodesk’s strategic alignment.
“Our acquisition of The Wild reflects the rapid transformation taking place in the construction industry, from the complexity of projects to the geographic diversity of the teams that design, build and operate,” he said in a statement. “XR is a business necessity we must have today and an important part of the Autodesk Forge platform vision.”
If the topics of virtual reality and augmented reality have so far been focused in niches, developments since the beginning of the year show that their expansion is inevitable.
The idea of extended reality is not new. In fact, the use of this term dates back decades, and components of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality have been in vogue for several years now. The past decade has seen significant technical developments in this sector, with the advent of virtual reality glasses like Quest da Meta (formerly Facebook), mixed reality (Microsoft’s HoloLens) and countless augmented reality applications that only need a tablet or smartphone. . Moreover, we have ushered in a new generation of mobile communication, which, due to its bandwidth, speed and low latency, allows us to make a huge leap forward. This is why only now, with the maturation of AR and VR technologies and the advent of 5G, is it possible to realize scenarios that until just a few years ago were science fiction.
The forecast translates into what is now an explosive market. According to research by Report Ocean, global demand for XR will grow at an average annual rate of 45% by 2026, when it will be worth $346.39 billion (€313.46 billion). The company describes this segment as “the blended environments of real, virtual, human-machine interactions generated by computer and wearable technologies,” including augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality.
We can think of the XR as a tent that includes these scenarios and everything that can create an interactive virtual experience with realistic visuals and/or sounds. Its potential use ranges from training, education, and education to entertainment, collaboration, remote maintenance, or technical troubleshooting.
In the calculations of the IMARC Group, the growth will be even greater: the company expects the global market to reach $465.26 billion (421 billion euros) in 2027, with an annual growth rate of 46.2% in the next five years. Analysts stress how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these forecasts, and its impact will need to be incorporated into future projections.
The summary of the report reads, “Many companies have moved from a remote working environment to the cloud.” “This is one of the key drivers driving demand for XR to enable employees to view their office environment, participate in virtual meetings, and work efficiently from home.”