VR and AR Landscape

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VR and AR Landscape

Key Takeaways

  • Apple is a technology company that has a $274.5 billion revenue. Apple currently has one of the largest AR platforms globally, the ARKit.
  • The virtual reality market's global revenue is expected to increase from $6.1 billion in 2020 to "$20.9 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 27.9%."
  • Mobile AR is now a consumer platform with more than 1 billion active users "across messaging-based, OS-based, and web-based mobile AR platforms."

Introduction

This research presents examples of leading VR and AR companies. This also presents insights into the evolution of the AR and VR user experience and user interface. In addition, insights into VR and AR market ecosystem have also been presented. The details are outlined below.

I. Leading Virtual Reality (VR) Companies

Oculus VR

  • Oculus, a California-based company, is the first modern virtual reality headset developer. In 2016, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion. However, as a VR company, Oculus still runs separately from Facebook.
  • The company focuses on VR production and manufacturing VR headsets. Oculus also offers VR apps such as Venues, Oculus Browser, Oculus TV, Oculus Gallery, and Facebook Horizon.
  • Oculus has been rated 5/5 by Software Testing Help. Oculus is one of the four VR companies that received a 5/5 rating. It is also listed by Software Testing Help as one of the top VR companies.

Samsung

  • Samsung is a Korea-based technology company that was founded in 1938. The company has a revenue of $194 billion. Samsung was the company that launched "the first cheapest option available for mid-range VR experiences," which is the Samsung Gear VR.
  • Samsung focuses on "VR headset manufacturing and platform development," "development of VR content platform," and VR app development.
  • Samsung offers a VR browser for VR content browsing. It also launched "VR-compatible mobile OS and devices such as Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus."
  • Software Testing Help has also given Samsung a 5/5 rating. Software Testing lists Samsung as one of the top VR companies.

iTechArt

  • iTechArt is a New York-based software development company that implements immersive and augmented experiences. This company creates VR and AR solutions.
  • Some of the services it offers include "interactive AR and VR cross-platform mobile experiences," VR maps, VR charts, and VR graphs.
  • This company has been listed by Software Testing as one of the top VR companies. It is also one of the four companies that received a 5/5 rating from Software Testing.

Microsoft

  • Microsoft is a Washington-based computing and technology company with many locations worldwide. The company was founded in 1975, and it has a revenue of $143.02 billion. Microsoft is currently one of the world's biggest VR companies.
  • The company offers mixed reality-ready PCs that support the hardware and software for VR and AR experiences. Microsoft also provides wearable VR gear for VR gaming, including VR apps on the Microsoft Store.
  • Software Testing Help lists Microsoft as one of the top VR companies. Microsoft received a 4.8/5 rating.

Alphabet (Google)

  • Alphabet, Google's parent company, is based in San Francisco, USA, and was founded in 1998. It has an annual revenue of $2.6 billion.
  • The company offers Google Cardboard, a "very cheap smartphone-based VR headset made of cardboard." It also provides Google Expeditions VR, a VR content platform that provides a virtual tour of "the world's top museums and local excavations."
  • This is one of the top VR companies listed by Software Testing Help. Alphabet has a 4.6/5 rating.

Sandbox VR

  • Sandbox VR is a Chicago-based VR startup that provides VR entertainment stations that are location-based. Sandbox was founded in 2016 and has already received $119 million in funding.
  • Sandbox offers a VR experience that allows a group to "hunt for a deranged doctor accused of illegal experiments." The company "has also licensed its technology platform to IMAX for its VR Centre" in various countries.
  • This company is listed in Tracxn's list of top VR startups.

Varjo

  • Varjo is a Finland-based VR startup that was founded in 2016. It has already received $100 million in funding from several investors such as Nordic Secondary Fund, Next47, and European Investment Bank.
  • Varjo provides VR headsets. It also offers VR and AR content, and allows users to learn, train, or create in a virtual environment. Varjo offers VR solutions for 3D model designing, training and simulation, architecture, and medical applications.
  • This company is on Tracxn's list of top VR startups.

MindMaze

  • MindMaze is a Switzerland-based VR startup that was founded in 2012. This company provides a "VR-based solution for neuro-rehabilitation," which can be used in hospitals or home care.
  • The company has already received $119 million in funding. Some of its investors include Hinduja Group, AlbaCore Capital Group, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Some of its offerings include MindMotion GO and MindMotion PRO. MindMotion GO is a neurorehabilitation system that is gamified, while MindMotion PRO is an early motor rehabilitation mobile neurorehabilitation system.
  • This company is on Tracxn's list of top VR startups.

CemtrexLabs

  • CemtrexLabs is a New York-based VR startup that was founded in 2017. The company has a revenue of $32 million.
  • Its offerings are focused on VR prototyping, web and VR design, and VR development. CemtrexLabs offers Quazar, a VR technology-based Oculus Go Game, and VR applications such as the Richemont's Arcadium.
  • CemtrexLabs has been listed by Software Testing Help as one of the top VR companies. It has a 4.5/5 rating.

Vicarious Surgical

  • Vicarious Surgical is a Massachusetts-based VR startup that was founded in 2014. This company has received $185.2 million in funding as its post-IPO equity. Bill Gates is one of its investors.
  • Vicarious Surgical offers VR technology that enables "robots to make exact movements during highly sensitive surgeries." The company offers a VR headset that allows a doctor "to ensure a successful surgery" even if he's miles away.
  • This company is one of the top VR startups as it has a 3,700% 5-year search growth. It's also on Exploding Topics' list of "Exploding VR Startups in 2022."

II. Leading Augmented Reality (AR) Companies

ScienceSoft

  • ScienceSoft is a Texas-based AR company with "an impressive track record" in AR development for 16 years. The company was founded in 1989. It has a revenue of $25 million.
  • ScienceSoft offers "complex AR apps that properly handle occlusion and ensure high precision 3D model placement."
  • This company has high-end clients, including IBM, T-Mobile, Ford, Nestle, NASA, eBay, and Rakuten Viber. It is listed by Software Testing Help as one of the top AR companies. ScienceSoft has a 5/5 rating.

Next/Now

  • Next/Now is a Chicago-based AR company that was founded in 2011. This company has an AR studio that offers leading AR experiences.
  • Next/Now offers apps that complement digital AR experiences using gesture inactivity and natural user interfaces. One of the apps it produced included an AR Face Painting beauty app, which won the 2017 Elevate Awards.
  • This company has provided AR experiences for top brands such as LG, Intel, Audi, Mazda, Target, and Allstate. Next/Now is on Software Testing's list of top AR companies, and it has a 4.6/5 rating. Next/Now is also on Mobile App Daily's list of top AR companies.

Apple

  • Apple is a technology company that has a $274.5 billion revenue. Apple currently has one of the largest AR platforms globally, the ARKit.
  • Apple's ARKit SDK "integrates with Safari browser for WebAR experiences." The ARKit is used for AR apps development and AR experiences for mobile devices.
  • Apple is one of Software Testing's top AR companies. It has a 4.5/5 rating.

Microsoft

  • Microsoft is a US-based technology company that was founded in 1975. It has a revenue of $143 billion. This company manufactures "computers that support AR technology."
  • Microsoft offers the HoloLens AR headset, produces AR accessories, and supports AR experiences and AR games on the Microsoft Store.
  • Microsoft is on Software Testing's list of top AR companies. It has a 4.5/5 rating.

Gravity Jack

  • Gravity Jack is a Washington-based AR company that was launched in 2009. It is an AR app development company.
  • Gravity Jack develops AR applications and provides AR experiences. It has provided AR experiences for companies such as The Lincoln Motor Company, World of Tanks, The Port of Virginia, and Sikorsky.
  • This company is on Software Testing's list of top AR companies. It has a 4.2/5 rating. Gravity Jack is also on Mobile App Daily's list of top AR companies.

Niantic

  • Niantic is an AR startup that was launched in 2011. It is well-known as the developer of Pokemon Go, "which generated $2 billion from in-app purchases."
  • Niantic offers AR mobile games such as Ingress Prime, Pokemon Go, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Its clients include Motorola, Google, Mitsubishi, and Jamba Juice.
  • This company is also on Software Testing's list of top AR companies. It has a 5/5 rating.

Groove Jones

  • Groove Jones is a US-based AR company that was launched in 2015. Groove Jones is the development partner for Microsoft HoloLens, Google's ARCore, Apple ARKit, and Facebook Spark AR.
  • Groove Jones develops AR apps such as the "Toyota TRD Pro AR app based on ARKit" and Amazon's New Year New You AR app.
  • This company is on Software Testing's list of top AR companies. It has a 4.3/5 rating. Groove Jones is also on Mobile App Daily's list of top AR companies.

Scanta

  • Scanta is a US-based AR startup that was founded in 2016. This company focuses on AR development, including AR experiences, platforms, and apps.
  • Scanta helped develop "the world's first AR Emoji app." The company worked with Apple and Google to develop AR Emojis, which were "used to incorporate AR characters" in video making. Scanta helped explore augmented reality with Pikamojis.
  • It's on Software Testing's list of top AR companies. It has a 5/5 rating.

SentiAR

  • SentiAR is a Missouri-based AR startup that was launched in 2017.
  • SentiAR offers "medical augmented reality to create a holographic visualization of a patient's anatomy." This is particularly useful during interventional procedures such as cardiac arrhythmias treatment.
  • This company is one of the top AR startups listed by Hit Consultant. In addition, it "was named one of the Top 10 Cardiovascular Device Companies in 2019 by Med Tech Outlook."

VR Vision

  • VR Vision is a Toronto-based AR and VR startup that is now rated "as one of the best AR companies." The company was founded in 2016.
  • VR Vision offers VR and AR app development with applications in health care, training, and education.
  • The company is on Software Testing's list of top AR companies, with a 4.3/5 rating. VR Vision is also listed on Mobile App Daily's top AR companies.

III. VR Market Ecosystem

Global Revenue Expected to Reach $20.9 Billion by 2025

  • The virtual reality market's global revenue is expected to increase from $6.1 billion in 2020 to "$20.9 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 27.9%."
  • This growth is driven by the increasing VR market investments, growing adoption of HMDs, availability of affordable VR devices with particular applications in the entertainment and gaming sectors.

Increasing Demand for VR Devices in the Entertainment Sector

  • The entertainment and gaming sector has been driving the growth of the VR market. There are "new apps such as virtual location experiences in which groups of people get together virtually in the cyber-world."
  • Businesses are also expected "to use VR as a means to destress employees" through virtual experience offerings.
  • One of the VR startups providing VR services in the gaming and entertainment sector is Sandbox VR. One of Sandbox VR's investors is Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).

Expected to Regain Complete Momentum by 2023

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a positive impact on the growth of the VR market, particularly in entertainment applications.
  • However, the pandemic has also negatively impacted the VR market's supply chain because of low cross-border trade and lockdowns. This is why the global consumer market for VR is expected to have sluggish growth in the next year.
  • The VR market is "expected to regain its complete momentum by 2023."

VR Monetization and Revenue Opportunities

  • Software, hardware, services, content, and devices are the ways in which ecosystem participants monetize VR.
  • VR Pay Per Experience, VR Payments, and VR Data are the "high growth VR business revenue opportunities."
  • The next-generation VR monetization will be through "mixed reality as real-world objects in a virtual world take on a sense of permanency with real objects."

VR for Mental Health Therapy Sessions

  • One of the most promising VR software applications is the Limbix VR Kit, which is used for immersive mental health therapy sessions.

IV. AR Market Ecosystem

Global Revenue Projected to Reach $77 Billion by 2025

  • The AR market is also projected to grow from $15.3 billion in 2020 to "$77 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 38.1%." Digi-Capital has also forecasted that the VR and AR global revenue is set to grow to over $67 billion by 2024.
  • This growth is propelled by the rising demand for AR devices with particular applications in healthcare, increasing AR market investments, and increasing "demand for AR in retail and e-commerce sectors due to COVID-19."

Mobile AR as a Consumer Platform

Increasing Demand for AR Applications in Healthcare

  • There is now a growing demand for AR applications in healthcare. AR technology can now be used to have a virtual view of a patient's body parts. This is beneficial in conducting minimally invasive surgeries.
  • In addition, AR applications for fitness improvement, training doctors, teaching medical students, supporting patients, and managing pharmacy are driving the growth of the AR and VR market in the healthcare sector.

AR Navigation System for Surgeries

  • One of the most promising AR software applications is Augmedics' XVision Spine System (XVS). XVS is the "first AR navigation system for surgery," consisting of a headset with glasses and a camera.
  • This AR navigation system "visualizes data like the patient's spinal anatomy and the position of surgical tools as a 3D image right on the surgeon's glasses."

AR for Boosting Browsing Experience

  • Another promising AR application is startup Avataar's AR that "seeks to boost on-screen buying/browsing experience."
  • Sequoia Capital invested in Avataar in its "Series A round of funding."

AR is Set to be the Heart of Metaverse

  • Metaverse is set to be an AR environment "accessed using see-through lenses." This would be the case once metaverse receives a broad adoption.
  • Metaverse will not primarily be a VR environment because it is more difficult to provide a "unified sensory model of the world" through VR.

V. Evolution of the AR and VR User Experience (UX)

Morton Heilig's Sensorama in 1957

  • The first augmented reality experience, to some extent, took place in 1957 when Morton Heilig invented the Sensorama.
  • The Sensorama delivered sounds, visuals, smell, and vibration to cinema viewers. It was not computer-controlled, but it was the first attempt at providing "additional data to an experience."

First Functioning AR System in 1992

  • USAF Armstrong's Research Lab, led by Louis Rosenberg, developed the "first properly functioning AR system" in 1992. This AR system was called Virtual Fixtures.
  • Virtual Fixtures was a complex robotic system "designed to compensate for the lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power in the early 90s."
  • Virtual Fixtures enabled users to experience having an "overlay of sensory information on a workspace to improve human productivity."

From Trying to Mimic to Becoming More Life-like

  • VR experiences started as experiences that simply try to "mimic the world around us." Now, VR experiences have become more life-like and have been "engaging users on all levels of sensory."
  • Every update on high-fidelity devices provides developers "more opportunity to build experiences that are as close to the real world as possible." The ability to offer a more life-like experience is definitely an improvement.
  • In 2007, users had a first-time experience of an "immersive 360-degree technology from cinema screens to computers" through the launch of Google Maps' street view.

AR Experience Through Smartphones

  • AR became more popular when the outdoor mobile AR game, Pokemon Go, was released in July 2016.
  • This allowed users to have an AR experience whenever and wherever using their smartphones. Smartphones basically have all the necessary hardware to be an AR device.

From Traditional 3D Sickness to Vergence-Accommodation Conflict

  • There have been several challenges in the VR user experience. Before, the challenge was primarily on traditional 3D sickness. Now, the challenge involves Vergence-Accommodation Conflict or VAC. This is also true for some AR experiences.
  • VAC happens "when one's brain receives conflicting information about the distance between the eye and 3D object (the vergence) and the focusing distance (the accommodation)."
  • The resolution for this challenge is one of the ways in which VR and AR technologies are still lacking.

VI. Evolution of the AR and VR User Interface (UI)

First VR User Interface in 1883's Stereoscope

  • The first User Interface for AR and VR was seen in Charles Wheatstone's stereoscope in 1838. The stereoscope uses "an image for each eye to create a 3D image for the viewer."
  • This was then followed by Kinetoscope, invented by William Dickson and Thomas Edison in 1981. In the Kinetoscope, users looked through a peephole that shows "images at 46 FPS." The history or evolution of AR and VR is shown in the image below.

Arcade Machines and Cave Automatic Virtual Environment

  • In 1991, the VR user interface was primarily contained in arcade machines such as the Virtuality Group Arcade Machines developed by W Industries. This made use of "magnetic stereoscopic visors, joysticks, and networked units for multiplayer gaming in stand-up and sit-down pod variants."
  • The user interface evolved in 1992 as the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment or CAVE was introduced by the Chicago Electronic Visualization Laboratory. This virtual environment was a room with projected realistic visuals "controlled by user movement inside through motion capture, stereoscopic LCD shutter glasses, and mirrors."

AR and VR Headsets of the 21st Century

  • The AR and VR headsets of the 21st century include the Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Sony's PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Magic Leap One, and Microsoft HoloLens.
  • The disadvantage is in the price of the headset. Google Cardboard, which was launched in 2015, costs only $15. Now, Microsoft HoloLens, which is a recently released headset, costs $3,000.
  • Microsoft HoloLens is an improvement because it is more versatile and more comfortable. Previously, AR headsets were heavy and cumbersome.

Various Displays for AR and VR Data

  • The displays that show AR data have also evolved through the years. It evolved from monitors to optical projection systems, head-mounted displays, heads-up displays, and virtual retina displays.
  • Now, there's also EyeTap, handheld displays, and Spatial Augmented Reality or SAR. SAR uses "ordinary projection techniques as a substitute for a display of any kind." The evolution of displays is one of the ways in which AR and VR user interfaces have improved.

Utilizes a 360-Degree UI Canvas

  • The VR user interface doesn't "reflect a traditional user interface" where the dimensions are fixed for its canvas.
  • VR UI utilizes a 360-degree canvas as the interactions are more of fluid movements such as motion-tracking, head-tracking, and eye-tracking.

Research Strategy

For this research on the VR and AR landscape, we leveraged the most reputable sources of information in the public domain, including VC Circle, Venture Beat, Globe Newswire, TechRepublic, a16z, Software Testing Help, and Tracxn.

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