March 23, 2022
While virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are popular with gamers and users of social media filters, both are quickly becoming part of the suite of tech tools that businesses, the sciences and academia use regularly.
Whether it’s the auto industry using VR to simulate the visuals and performance of a vehicle, tourism and real estate services providers leveraging the tech so vacationers and homebuyers can virtually visit a property, or the airline industry and law enforcement using training simulations, the technology is quickly becoming increasingly pervasive.
And these are simply the tip of the iceberg. All these industries leveraging AR/VR technology contributes to a massive industry that Valuates Reports, a provider of market insights into various industries, expects to reach $26.86 billion by 2027, a significant increase from $7.719 billion in 2020. With these technologies touching an increasing number of industries, let’s look at some of the public companies benefiting from the rising popularity of these tools.
While Unity Software Inc. (Tii:U) provides the engine for more than half of the world’s video games, it’s moving beyond the gaming industry. The leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content, Unity’s clients include artists, architects, automotive designers, TV producers and filmmakers. Citing demand to transition from linear 2D to interactive real-time 3D, the company reported a 43% rise in fourth-quarter 2021 revenue, which totaled $315.9 million. Further, Unity’s full-year revenues rose 44% year-over-year.
Formerly known as Facebook, Meta Platforms Inc. (Tii:FB) acquired leading VR technology provider Oculus in 2014. According to global market intelligence provider International Data Corporation, Meta’s flagship headset has become the market leader and made up 78% of all AR/VR headsets in 2021. Beyond the gaming applications, users can virtually attend sporting events, sculpt and paint, explore landscapes, and work up a sweat with exercise programs.
As a leading provider of processors that power VR technologies, chipmaker NVIDIA Corp. (Tii:NVDA) is steeped in the AR/VR industries. The semiconductor giant’s Extended Reality (XR) suite of solutions targets gamers and game developers and allows professionals to hold virtual models, walk through buildings, and rehearse surgical procedures. NVIDIA recently unveiled NVIDIA OVX, a computing system designed to power large-scale digital twins. This virtual representation serves as a real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process. Digital twins can also be linked to their physical operational counterparts and updated with sensor data so that the state of these physical objects can be assessed in real-time.
Microsoft Corp. (Tii:MSFT) has made significant inroads into the metaverse, having developed commercial applications for its VR headsets for the manufacturing, engineering & construction, healthcare and education industries. The HoloLens 2, which runs on the Windows 10 Holographic operating system, features fully articulated hand tracking, touch, grasp and includes over 200 enterprise-ready mixed reality solutions. Consumer brands using the Microsoft HoloLens 2 include Audi, Airbus, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and L’Oreal.
Alphabet Inc. (Tii:GOOG) has been methodically laying plans to expand its presence in the augmented reality space. Those plans took a step forward with the recent buyout of Raxium, a startup MicroLED displays manufacturer. MicroLEDs are power-efficient displays suitable for consumer AR glasses. The search engine/holding company already has an AR/VR product portfolio, including Google Lens, an image recognition technology that lets users search information on images captured with phones. Another, Google Glass, is essentially a set of smart eyeglasses that offers an augmented reality experience by using visual, audio and location-based inputs to provide relevant information. The device’s enterprise applications include improving order-picking efficiency and reducing production time on complex assemblies.
These are just a few companies jockeying for position in the young AR/VR space. Apple Inc. (Tii:AAPL), which already boasts the world’s largest AR platform, with hundreds of millions of AR‑enabled devices, is rumored to have a team of hundreds of employees clandestinely working on commercial virtual and augmented reality projects. If nothing else, it proves that virtual environments are more than just fun and games.
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