VR (Virtual Reality) is a technology that allows the creation of an artificial image of reality. VR consists of appropriate software and hardware, i.e., software and hardware. A headset is necessary for virtual reality, and depending on the model of the headset, other components of the VR headset may also include controllers and motion sensors.
This article explains what the global VR market looks like now, what applications this technology has today, and how the global VR market will develop in the future.
The global VR market in numbers
According to data from Mordor Intelligence, the value of the global VR market in 2020 amounted to over USD 17 billion. This market is expected to reach over USD 184 billion by 2026, with a cumulative annual growth rate of 48.7% between 2021 and 2026. The same report indicates that Asia and Australia are the fastest growing VR markets in the world.
According to data provided by Statista, the global sale of headsets in 2019 amounted to 5.4 million units, while in 2020 over 4.9 million units. These statistics do not confirm the headlines that expected a sudden increase in sales of virtual reality devices during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. A very likely reason why many popular models were temporarily unavailable for sale was the shortage of electronic components and the impact of the pandemic on production continuity.
It is estimated that the number of VR goggles sold in 2021 will reach over 6 million. The increasing speed of the internet connection available to consumers will contribute to the growth. In addition, the number of potential recipients increases thanks to the growing use of virtual reality.
Types of VR headsets
VR headsets can be divided into three main categories: phone goggles, computer goggles and autonomous goggles.
Phone headsets are the most affordable and usually cheaper models, mainly due to the lack of electronic components. Such headsets have space for a smartphone and lenses that allow the creation of a stereoscopic 3D effect. They do not require the purchase or installation of additional accessories, and the only limitation is usually the size of the phone owned. The quality of the displayed VR image and the available functions also depend on the technical parameters of the phone.
Computer headsets are more complex devices. Instead of a phone screen, they use a built-in computer display screen and special lenses. The sensors allow reading head movements; some models also have their speakers. The goggles need to be connected to a computer, and often to place special sensors in the room where they will be used. Dedicated controllers are used to operating the software. There are also available for sale goggles of this type for consoles.
Autonomous headsets are the most advanced virtual reality goggles. No external devices are required to use them, and all elements are built into the goggles. The included controllers are used to operate the VR software, but there is no need to install additional motion sensors. Autonomous virtual reality goggles are currently the most popular development direction for this technology development.
So far, the most popular virtual reality applications have been games and exercises or watching movies and events. With the growing popularity and availability of this technology, it has been adapted to professional purposes.
In 2017, Walmart purchased over 17,000 Oculus Go devices designed to train their employees. Some companies specialize in using VR to conduct training sessions. In 2016, Rolls Royce opened a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE), a unique space for visualizing virtual reality, at its headquarters in Germany. It allows presenting projects on a 1: 1 scale and speed up the work.
Eurostat also decided to use the potential of this technology and created Virtual Reality for Statistical Literacy (ViROS), a VR game for Oculus, Google Daydream, Android, and iOS systems. The application uses elements of gamification, visualization, and storytelling to allow people with no experience with statistics to learn about Eurostat’s resources in an exciting way. The main target group of ViROS are students entering the labour market. Another VR for Analytics (Eurobase in 3D) application is under development and dedicated for specialists working with statistics. It is to allow the use of virtual reality to visualize data in 3D.
With the introduction of lockdowns worldwide in 2020, masses of new users have acquired programs and games that enable multiplayer entertainment and connect with other users in real-time. Applications enabling virtual travel also recorded an increase in popularity. Additionally, in the professional environment, VR was used to conduct meetings while working remotely.
The largest producers on the global VR market
Currently, the following companies are the leaders in the VR headset market:
- Facebook Technologies (Oculus brand, USA),
- Sony Interactive Entertainment (Japan),
- HTC Corporation (Taiwan),
- Valve Corporation (USA).
Despite the obvious presence of leaders, the VR market is not seen as entirely consolidated. There are many technologies and headsets companies out there, some of them startups.
The future of the VR market
Technological trends in the virtual reality market are aimed at better and better accessibility for the consumer due to the lower price and accessibility, and ease of use. It is visible in the example of autonomous goggles that do not require connection with external devices such as computers or consoles, allowing VR to be operated without inconvenient wiring. In addition, thanks to the built-in sensors, the new goggles do not require the installation of sensors. Such devices often allow using less space, which makes the VR entertainment available to apply in smaller rooms than before. It reduces the entry barrier for new consumers and makes the technology easier to use.
VR finds more and more applications that go beyond the entertainment area with which it is most often associated. The British Financial Reporting Council, at the beginning of 2021, prepared a report on the use of virtual reality in corporate reporting. According to this document, VR would replace live meetings and videoconferences over time. In addition, research has been carried out on the use of VR devices in medicine for a long time, both for staff training and rehabilitation and treatment.
Barriers to VR development
A barrier to the development of the virtual reality market for professional purposes is the lack of specialized software and systems that would enable, for example, training with its help for emergency services or firefighters. Another problem is the social acceptance of technology, the insufficient level of which inhibits its development. According to research on the use of VR for training medical personnel, its effectiveness depends on the level of acceptance of this technology by the trainee.
According to data from 2019, the most significant barrier to the broader adaptation of headsets was still the price, indicated by over 46% of specialists in the area of extended reality (XR). Another problem noted by as many as 45% of respondents is the lack of content – applications and games that would induce more people to buy goggles. In the third place, there was a barrier in the form of the current size of VR headsets, which for many people are too big and heavy to use regularly for a long time.
Author: Luiza Rach
Do you want to get to know your industry better – market value, trends, companies, and development potential?
Since these are services tailored to the individual needs of the client,
contact us and tell us what information you need.
We will prepare a free offer and propose specific solutions.
Virtual Reality and its potential for Europe, Bezegová E., Ledgard M. A., Molemaker R-J., Oberč B. P., Vigkos A., www.ec.europa.eu.
Digital Transformation Monitor, Augmented and Virtual Reality, European Comission, 2017, www.ati.ec.europa.eu.
Piloting Virtual Reality for Official Statistics, Eurostat, 2020, www.coms.events.
Virtual Reality for Official Statistics (ViROS), Eurostat, www.ec.europa.eu.
Virtual and Augmented Reality in corporate reporting, Financial Reporting Council, 2021, www.frc.org.uk.
Exploring learner acceptance of the use of virtual reality in medical education: a case study of desktop and projection-based display systems, Interact. Learn. Environ., Huang H.-M., et al., 2016.
How VR is Transforming the Way We Train Associates, Incao J., 20.09.2018, www.corporate.walmart.com.
Virtual Reality (VR) Market – Growth, Trends, Covid-19 Impact, and Forecast (2021–2026), Mordor Intelligence, www.mordorintelligence.com.
2020 Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey Report, Perkins Coie, 2020, www.perkinscoie.com.
Leading barriers to mass adoption of VR according to XR professionals worldwide as of the 3rd quarter of 2019, Statista, www.statista.com.
Virtual reality (VR) headset unit sales worldwide from 2019 to 2024, Statista, www.statista.com.
VR at Rolls Royce: How to test engines that don’t yet exist as hardware, Werner E., 09.03.2020, www.mth-potsdam.de.