Extended reality has been around for decades, and the concept of a simulated reality has been around even longer. It's expanded from science fiction tales to real, tangible extensions of our physical reality. XR technology is being used in manufacturing, education, construction, and healthcare to entertain, edify, and evaluate users in newer ways. The technology is creating a more productive environment within these industries.
What is Extended Reality?
Extended reality is an umbrella term that covers all of the digitally immersive technologies (including virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, and technologies not yet developed). Think of it like a literal extension of the physical world into the digital. Using a processor, display, and sensors, the user can interact with digital recreations on a physical or virtual setting, or a mix of the two.
With how rapidly extended reality is making its way into the world, it's important to understand the extent to which we use and are influenced by XR. So, here are extended reality statistics, facts, and trends you need to know.
XR Technology Growth, Development, and Use
Development of XR technology has been in the works for decades. The Sword of Damocles, named for the events in an old Italian anecdote, was build in the 1960s and one of the first of a long line of revolutionary head mounted displays. Today, with the resources and companies willing to invest in the hardware, development of AR, VR, and MR has a promising future with a positive impact on many industries.
1. In 2021, the global XR market reached 28 billion USD, and is expected to reach over 250 billion USD by 2028. (Statista)
2. XR technology use estimates are that between 57.4 million and 90.9 million people used XR technology (VR and AR respectively) in 2021. (Source) Due to an increased demand in the technology, and its valuable use cases for every day involvement, this number is expected to rise.
3. The VR headset market size in 2022 was $8.1 billion USD with the top brand being Meta Quest. (Source)
4. Shipment of AR/VR devices worldwide in 2021 were up to 9.86 million units and is expected to rise above 10 million units by the end of 2023. (Source)
5. The gaming industry has always been a leader in AR/VR development, but in recent years, other consumer brands have welcomed the opportunity for their own progression by using the technology. Notable industries actively developing the tech are manufacturing, retail, construction, education, and healthcare.
XR Uses for Training and Education
XR technology is particularly well suited to training and education scenarios because of its highly immersive nature. Its simulations encourage rapid information retention and internalization that helps users remember information more correctly for longer periods of time. Training for industries such as healthcare, manufacturing and construction, retail, and for educational purposes can rely heavily on this innovative technology.
6. XR technology is improving medical training and patient care. According to Microsoft (creator of the HoloLens 2 and its predecessor) the mixed reality (MR) headset reduced training time by 30% and increased efficiency in patient rounds. (Microsoft)
7. In the manufacturing industry, companies were able to reduce training time by 75%, with an average cost reduction of 30$ per labor hour. (Microsoft) Employees trained as extensively as is capable with virtual reality become less of a liability to the company itself, and in turn become a much bigger asset.
8. Partly because of the cost involved, most companies that use virtual and augmented reality as a training method are larger companies with 10,000+ employees. Of these companies, 23% use virtual reality, 11% use augmented reality, and 9% use other AI based training methods. (Source) Virtual and augmented reality training programs have proven more successful than traditional methods of learning.
9. In his 1984 paper on learning titled, “Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development,” psychologist David A. Kolb states that experiential learning is “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combinations of grasping and transforming experience.” (Source) VR, AR, and MR allow students and trainees to gain experience in a low-risk setting with simulated environments, enabling them to gain and internalize this experience like Kolb suggests to help users process information.
XR Technology for Business Strategy
Businesses all around the world are adopting virtual and augmented reality into everyday operations. It makes for a highly effective marketing strategy, and helps companies gain valuable insights into consumer trends. Some groups, and the way they use XR may even surprise you.
10. A good marketing strategy has always been key in whether a business thrives or dives. Those businesses who don’t adapt to both changing market conditions and marketing tactics find themselves falling behind their forward-thinking competitors. Using AR/VR in their market strategy, they’re able to receive real time analytics and useful information about their target audience’s buying habits to change or enhance strategy as the need arises.
11. Some companies you may or may not know are using the technology are Microsoft, Sony and Facebook. Others that go a little more under the radar are Home Depot, Ray-Ban (especially with their own line of AR capable glasses), and even Wal-Mart. These companies use the technology on social media and regular marketing channels to reach wider audiences and show the benefits of time-tested products in new ways.
12. Virtual storefronts in the metaverse are one of the latest ways VR is used. Customers can browse and purchase products in a fully immersive environment like Lancôme and their collaboration with ByondXR. The company was able to create a virtual experience in which they created 3D models that customers could interact with.
13. Gamifying marketing experiences for retail brands is another interesting way that businesses are utilizing AR technology. Gamification of information is one way that VR and AR make such beneficial learning tools, but adopting them to business habits is relatively new.
14. Because AR is more widely available it makes for a more accessible marketing tactic than virtual reality. This is due to the cost of consumer investment in VR headsets. Because most people already have an AR capable device and regularly use it as a means for social connection (social media apps like SnapChat and Instagram), development for AR marketing is a more common priority.
On top of training purposes, XR is used in developmental industries to create processes that reduce downtime and create more agile and productive systems. It’s effectively used for retail experiences to reach consumers in an organic way, and other service industries like healthcare and hospitality to better help customers reach and benefit those in their care. In just a few years, XR technology has become one of the leading revenue generators for retail and commercial companies, with thousands of businesses investing in VR and AR as a valuable marketing tactic.
These statistics, facts, and uses showcase the benefits and reasons why adapting extended reality technology into your life is a positive step. While there can be some negative consequences to using the technology (like headaches, nausea, disconnection from reality, etc.), using XR in moderation and with intention can improve the development of the business and personal aspects of your life.