Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are not enough deviations from Reality for today’s technology. Now we have XR, which includes virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed-reality, and future immersive technology. Two organizations—Perkins Coie and the XR Association—came together to conduct an Insider Survey probing the perceived state of the art. 

Jason Schneiderman, co-lead of the Immersive Technology (AR/VR/XR) vertical and Emerging Company Venture Capital attorney at Perkins Coie, discussed the news regarding opinions of post-pandemic growth with me recently. One of the limiting factors is limited content. But, 71% of those surveyed thought investment would increase post-pandemic. For manufacturing, people weigh the cost of not flying in an expert as part of the AR/VR investment. Automotive #1 in optimism, manufacturing number 7.

From the news release:

Disruption caused by COVID-19 has strengthened immersive technology’s prospects, which could get even stronger as the world emerges from the pandemic, according to the fifth annual XR Industry Insider Survey (previously the Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey) released today by Perkins Coie and leading industry group the XR Association.

The survey of 164 industry stakeholders involved in XR, which encompasses virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, shows the pandemic may have actually supercharged the industry’s momentum of the past half-decade. In light of COVID-19’s effects—namely, social distancing guidelines that forced a global shift toward remote connectivity and increased comfort and familiarity with online and virtual experiences—more than eight in 10 respondents say investment in immersive technology will increase in 2021 compared with 2020.

The survey, conducted in April 2021, was preceded and informed by group interviews with experts in the field. Overall, the results show that immersive technologies continue to expand beyond gaming and entertainment, with sectors like healthcare, education, retail, and workforce development and training seen as areas of potential growth.

Eighty-three percent of respondents expect immersive technology investment in 2021 to be higher than in 2020, compared with 68% in our previous survey, who said 2020 investment would be higher than in 2019. Additionally, 37% said investment would be significantly higher in this year’s survey, compared with 26% last year. Notably, optimism is higher for some industries; after the reliance on remote work over the past year, 95% of respondents say their organizations plan to increase spending on immersive technology for better remote collaborations and trainings.

The biggest barrier to mass adoption revolves around access to software. Half of respondents said development of more accessible software (not specifically regarding open-source software or software built for persons with disabilities) to meet the needs of all users will be the biggest driver of enterprise adoption. For consumer adoption, respondents said the top driver was availability of and access to open-source software and communities (61%).

Other challenges are consistent with results from past year’s surveys. User experiences was cited by 65% of respondents as the top barrier to greater adoption of immersive technology, while content offerings (53%) and costs to consumers (27%) were other hurdles.

Validating some anecdotal evidence that the industry is becoming more diverse, six in 10 survey respondents identified as working for a minority-owned or a female-owned company.

Findings showed that minority-owned companies were more likely to strongly agree, while respondents from women-owned businesses were more likely to agree or strongly agree on the lack of compelling content. For respondents from minority-owned companies, existing content is especially lacking when it comes to being interactive and immersive. In addition, respondents from female-owned companies were more likely to think educational content is lacking even though they think the pandemic has affected the use of immersive technology in education more than any other sector except marketing and advertising (the full survey pool chose healthcare).

Perkins Coie is a leading international law firm that is known for providing high value, strategic solutions and extraordinary client service on matters vital to our clients’ success.

The XR Association promotes the dynamic global growth of the XR industry, which includes virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed-reality, and future immersive technology. XRA is leading the way for the responsible development and adoption of XR by convening stakeholders, developing best practices and research, and advocating on behalf of our members and the greater XR industry.

The XR Association represents the broad ecosystem of the XR industry including headset manufacturers, technology platforms, component and peripheral companies, internet infrastructure companies, enterprise solution providers, and corporate end users. The founders of XRA are Google, HTC Vive, Microsoft, Oculus from Facebook, and Sony Interactive Entertainment.

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