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Will AR Smart Glasses Over Take VR Headsets?

This week, ResearchAndMarkets released its “Smart Augmented Reality Glasses—Global Strategic Business Report,” which highlights the growth rates of smart glasses, the potential opportunity for enterprises, and how smart glasses could replace VR headsets.

The report showed that the global market for smart glasses reached roughly 678.6 thousand units in 2023. Moreover, ResearchAndMarkets noted that it expects the market to grow substantially by 13 Million Units by 2030, reaching a CAGR of 53.0 per cent from 2023 to 2030.

Regionally, the smartglasses market in the US grew to cover roughly 432.3 thousand units in 2023, adding to the faithful 2030 market forecast. Moreover, ResearchAndMarkets expects the market growth in China to reach a 62.5 per cent CAGR and 613.3 thousand unit shipments by 2030.

ResearchAndMarkets is working towards covering broader hardware considerations as part of the growing smart glasses market, including “simple assisted reality glasses,” which the research body forecasts to reach 5 million units by 2030 with a CAGR of 50.3%. Additionally, ResearchAndMarkets notes that MR holographic displays, such as Apple’s Vision Pro, will grow at a 58.4% CAGR until 2030.

Will VR Headsets Fade?

ResearchAndMarkets highlights how its forecasted growth of AR smart glasses is partly due to factors such as increasing investments, more AR enterprise-grade applications, and technological advancements.

These factors are leading to significantly optimised smart glasses hardware, which, compared to years past, is becoming easier to use, cheaper, and more accessible in certain territories.

Moreover, ResearchAndMarkets notes how enterprise investment is helping fuel the technology, not the consumer—a flipped expectation; as with VR headsets, the thinking is that consumer advancements fueled enterprise usage.

ResearchAndMarkets notes sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, and retail as key usages of smart glasses, which are, therefore, pushing the market forward.

Interestingly, the smart glasses forecast mirrors a report released this month, highlighting how VR headset shipments could decrease in favour of MR and AR wearables.

IDC recently reported a significant decrease in global AR/VR headset shipments during the first quarter of 2024. Shipments declined by 67.4 per cent year over year in Q1, with VR headsets most affected. Potential customers are now looking for MR/AR devices instead.

Jitesh Ubrani, a Research Manager at Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, noted that the decline is due to new mixed reality/spatial computing devices overtaking user interest. He predicts that “strictly virtual reality headsets will decline in the coming years.”

The report also noted that as sales declined, the average selling price increased by over $1000, partly due to Apple Vision Pro. Since the Quest 2 market takeover in 2020, prices of multiple consumer headsets have increased incrementally.

The IDC predicts that the volume of MR headset shipments will increase with a CAGR of 43.9 per cent from 2024 to 2028 due to the expected decrease in the starting entry price for MR headsets. This increase is attributed to potential audiences transitioning from VR to MR/AR devices and the launch of new mass-market products.

Additionally, while consumer-facing devices are dropping, separate reports indicate a rise in the use of XR devices in enterprises. These reports also highlight the steady growth of XR devices in enterprise settings.

VR Headset Will Find a Niche

Despite various forecasts painting the future of VR headsets bleakly, with subtler MR and AR devices poised to take over, VR headsets may not be dying yet. Outside conventional consumer use cases like gaining, VR is a valuable tool for various industries.

An independent survey conducted by HTC VIVE, “XR Applications in the Financial Industry,” involved around 400 financial services professionals to examine the use of XR in the sector. The survey revealed that about 92 percent of financial professionals had experienced a positive return on investment from XR. Moreover, 82 per cent of the respondents believed that their firms would incorporate XR technology within the next five years.

The survey also highlighted that 84 per cent of financial professionals noticed a positive impact on their workforce’s skill development by integrating XR into training programs. Additionally, 80 per cent of them believe immersive technology enhances general operational efficiency.

Additionally, Dimension Market Research released a report outlining future growth forecasts for the augmented and virtual reality market in healthcare, predicting significant acceleration in the sector in the coming years.

The report by Dimension Market Research suggests that the global AR/VR healthcare market is expected to reach $19.6 billion by 2033, with a corresponding 20.2 per cent CAGR. The report notes that the current 2024 market value is $3.7 billion, indicating a projected increase of approximately $15.2 billion. Notably, the North American AR/VR healthcare market is leading the sector’s growth, securing 51.1 per cent of the market’s revenue in 2024.

These end-user studies show that while MR and AR are finding new homes and perhaps kicking out VR in certain aspects, investment and belief in VR headsets remain true in specific sectors where the technology can bring value.

AR and MR are bringing XR to use cases in a less invasive manner, allowing the technology to sweep into the workplace in a less disruptive manner. However, for some end-users, VR’s fully immersive nature is required to secure workplace procedures like training.

Vendors and the usual suspects will state that smart glasses are the next big technology, perhaps even replacing a smartphone. No matter where the technology ends up, AR/MR/VR will all find separate enterprise usage, no matter how niche or transformative it may be.



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