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Augmented Reality Not Virtual Reality Key Driver Of U.S. Market

Brian Baglow


Pokemeon Go is one example of an augmented reality app

The growth of mobile apps which offer ‘augmented reality’ experiences such as Facebook and Instagram Stories and Snapchat Lenses, will drive the use of AR in the U.S. market far more quickly than the high profile virtual reality market, according to new research.

Over 40 Million Americans (just over 12% of the US population) will experience some form of augmented reality on a monthly basis in 2017. This is forecast to rise to 54.4 Million by 2019.

The first Augmented & Virtual Reality report from research company eMarketer, highlights the widespread availability of social media apps as key drivers in consumer uptake of the technology.

Despite high levels of investment and interest from the VC community, the report states that adoption of Virtual Reality has been much slower and is unlikely to reach mass adoption in the foreseeable future.

The report states that only 2.9% of the American population will use a VR headset on a monthly basis, rising to 5.2% by 2019.

While key content including 360 degree videos on Facebook and YouTube are noted, the relatively high cost of VR kit is given as the reason for the slower uptake.

Darroch McNaught founder and Chief Creative Officer of VR/AR experts Deuxality said, “It seems clear to me that AR is going to outperform VR at this early stage. The fact that roughly 70% of the adult population now owns a smart device, or at least a device with the ability to run some form of AR software means that the market penetration hurdle has already been cleared.

“The low barriers to adoption in AR mean we don’t need to worry about tethering the user to a high end PC, or the limited interaction with the world around them. In AR it’s quite the opposite –  we actually want the end user to interact with the outside world and their own environments in unique and wonderful new ways.

“Look at Pokemon Go for example, the same original core game mechanic with a simple AR twist turned it into a global and now much more social proposition. And it breathed life back into an ageing IP.

“Virtual Reality has its place but Augmented Reality is gathering pace and growing exponentially. I think this is also the reason that many of the main players such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft have stopped using the terms AR, VR and even MR, instead favouring XR which is fundamentally Cross Reality, where VR and AR will soon be one and the same.”

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Brian Baglow


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