Augmented and virtual reality headset market takes off

The worldwide augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset market is expected to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 108.3 percent, reaching 76 million units by 2020, according to International Data Corp.’s newly launched AR/VR Tracker.

The more affordable VR devices will continue to lead the market in terms of volume, IDC said. However, the firm expects AR headsets to pick up momentum over the forecast as more affordable technologies and more OEMs enter the market.

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IDC is currently tracking three categories of headsets: Screenless viewers, tethered head-mounted displays and standalone head-mounted displays.

This year "has been a defining year for AR, as millions of consumers were introduced to Pokemon Go and, on the commercial side, developers and businesses finally got their hands on coveted headsets like Microsoft's HoloLens," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

"AR may just be on track to create a shift in computing significant enough to rival the smartphone,” Ubrani said. “However, the technology is still in its infancy and has a long runway ahead before reaching mass adoption."

AR represents the larger long-term opportunity, but for the near term VR will capture the lion's share of shipments and media attention," said Tom Mainelli, program vice president, Devices & AR/VR at IDC.

"This year we saw major VR product launches from key players such as Oculus, HTC, Sony, Samsung and Google,” Mainelli said. “In the next 12 months, we’ll see a growing number of hardware vendors enter the space with products that cover the gamut from simple screenless viewers to tethered head-mounted displays to standalone head-mounted displays. The AR/VR headset market promises to be an exciting space to watch."

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