Today, the Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology is actively promoted in consumer and corporate markets. The leading segment of its use is so far the entertainment industry, but in the near future this technology will be massively used to reduce costs and speed up workflows. Despite its two- or three-year gap with the global leaders, the Russian AR/VR market is still on the upswing.
According to an IDC forecast, the worldwide sales of AR/VR helmets may reach 99.4 million devices by 2021, which is ten times higher than in 2016 (10.1 million). The average annual growth rate in the next five years will stand at 58%.
According to a Forbes forecast, the 2017 prices for AR/VR devices may go down by 20–30% accelerating their widespread use. AR sales proceeds are projected to grow from USD 209 million to USD 48.7 billion in the next five years, with VR helmets sales proceeds growing from USD 2.1 billion to USD 18.6 billion.
2017 is expected to witness a mass entry of the leading manufacturers into the market: Google, Apple and Samsung are creating their own AR/VR mobile applications. In October 2016, Microsoft introduced an upgrade of Windows 10 Creators VR supporting the AR/VR technology.
AR/VR are now mainly used in the entertainment industry.
In 2016, Amsterdam saw an opening of the first full-scale VR cinema. It is expected that in 2018 every theme park in the US will have at least one VR attraction.
The free game Pokemon Go using augmented reality has brought its developers USD 950 million in six months, with over half a billion downloads. Starting from 2015, the Russian Laboratory 24 with its DEVAR Kids brand has been publishing AR children's books: the user's smartphone virtual space makes fairy-tale characters come to life.
However, the AR/VR technology has already moved beyond mere entertainment, and is used in aerospace, automotive and medicine.
NASA has included an AR headset dubbed Microsoft HoloLens in its Sidekick space project to provide technical support to the crew.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin use the AR technology for visual cues in aircraft assembly and troubleshooting.
Fiat has introduced an AR system dubbed OPS Solutions, through which workers get visual information about their next step at each stage of the assembly process. BMW uses a similar technology, too. In Ferrari and Volvo showrooms, customers can use the AR technology to test a car's functions and security system, change its colour or choose optional equipment.
In Brazil, a spine surgery of immense complexity has been done using Microsoft HoloLens AR glasses. And Royal Philips has presented an innovative system of navigation surgery using the AR technology.
Yet, the market development faces a number of constraining factors:
high capital intensity of R&D and market entry costs without mass target audience;
technical constraints: until recently, AR/VR were mainly presented by experimental solutions;
insufficient AR/VR quality content, especially outside the gaming industry.
The Russian market for such technology is building up.
According to the Augmented and Virtual Reality Association (AVRA), in 2016 investments in this segment nationwide grew 3.5 times to RUB 700 million, and the number of active businesses has almost tripled.
One of the leading system integrators, CROC opened Russia's first Virtual Reality Centre, which is already used for some projects.
Over the past year, projects using the AR/VR technology have been introduced in a number of government and commercial institutions: the Shchusev Museum of Architecture, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Sberbank, SIBUR, ROSATOM, Gazprom, etc.
Russian startup projects receive funding from foreign investors. For example, WayRay, which develops intelligent navigation systems and holographic displays, has raised USD 18 million from Alibaba, and Piligrim XXI, a travel industry AR platform developer, has announced the sale of a quarter of its assets to Spanish Way2Wow.