In this blog post, Karen Zu, VP of Marketing at Pico, gives her views on the current XR market trends and possible challenges impacting the XR market, as well as key usage areas. This is the third post in Tobii’s blog series “The future of XR”, where Tobii’s business partners share their views on the development of the XR industry.
What are the most important trends that will impact the XR market in the coming 3–5 years?
Karen Zu: We see two key areas that will affect the XR market:
1. The current VR products are more virtual reality without “real reality,” which can be viewed as a barrier for some. With XR, the fusion of ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’ in combination with a more mature technology and ecosystem for XR (better FOV and display quality, reduced costs and improved revenue stream) will reduce these barriers and open up the market to a broader consumer audience.
2. We expect to see more XR applications in both the consumer and enterprise markets. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a number of businesses (and consumers) adopting XR technology to solve newfound problems in dealing with self-isolation and distance learning. Now that they have started to delve into to these types of solutions, they will be open to exploring them further, which presents a great opportunity for XR to introduce new ways of engagement.
What do you think the biggest challenges are to XR adoption today?
Karen Zu: There are some common challenges with XR adoption for both consumers and enterprises, such as comfort and wearability (still heavy and bulky), visual fidelity (for both display and content), and interactive technology (needs to be more natural and intuitive). For AR, it requires more mature technology with improved user experience which is more affordable. But the consumer and enterprise segments are different in some ways. As far as we have observed, the consumer market’s biggest challenge now is the lack of content; especially ‘killer’ content. When 6-DoF standalone VR headsets are launched, the basic VR experience is there (ease of use, natural interaction, good enough display quality), but better content is expected to drive growth within the consumer market. For enterprises, the challenges are still on the technology side — the adoption within some verticals require a more mature technology or specific interactions, such as eye tracking to meet the needs of certain businesses
What will need to change over the next 3 years to shift or reduce these challenges?
Karen Zu: For the consumer market, I am quite positive. Since the launch of Oculus Quest, we have seen positive feedback in VR. Content availability has grown significantly, and developers saw positive returns on their investment in the form of content revenue. Down the road, key improvements and innovation in new technology will further unleash the adoption of XR such as lighter devices, more accurate interaction between the real and virtual worlds, and improvements to combine VR with real experiences from a front-facing camera. All these technological improvements will further increase the adoption in both the consumer and enterprise verticals.
On the enterprise side, which industries will benefit the most from XR and why?
Karen Zu: We can already see strong potential growth areas such as healthcare, education and training.
There is a wide range of potential XR use cases within healthcare, including pain management through distraction and various therapy treatments, such as phobia treatment.
The idea of medical treatment and patient engagement across vast distances (Telehealth) also opens up the possibility of improving the livelihood and patients in isolated areas without diluting the quality of the care given by the lack of in-person interaction.
With education and training, the access to information and the level of interaction offered through XR applications will further enhance the learning experience. It has already been shown that this type of engagement through VR has positive results in information retention and can redefine skills training to improve student test scores, and we expect this to grow even more so through XR.
Which XR application areas do you think will have the brightest future?
Karen Zu: XR is a technology that could potentially benefit many areas in an unparalleled way, especially in training.
XR will certainly open up a lot of new ways for businesses to improve current training methods while also introducing new ways of engagement and interaction.
For example, training of employees through XR could rapidly speed up the learning process, especially in maintenance training. By having a direct feed overlay or a person showing them, live, the correct way to repair the item, the staff can be learning with the physical object at hand instead of using a simulation. They will also have all the training and guidance right in front of them, instead of having to look away to obtain guidance or instructions. There are also good examples of how VR is used to learn complex tasks, such as surgery, more effective to perform better in operating rooms.