Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Snapchat, Facebook fuelling augmented reality growth

Snapchat, Facebook fuelling augmented reality growth

Taking its first look at the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) video markets, research company eMarketer sees strong growth ahead in the U.S. In 2016, 30.7 million people used AR monthly, a number that will grow to 40.0 million in 2017 for a 30.2 percent increase.

Those 40.0 million current AR users represent 12.3 percent of the US population. Much of the growth of AR is being fueled by Snapchat Lenses, Facebook Stories, and Instagram Stories, while VR usage is being driven by 360-degree videos on social networks.

Image (top): Virtual, augmented and all other types of headsets are in essence categorized based on how much of the real world is allowed through any specific headset; the amount of reality and virtuality will define where a device sits in the spectrum of virtual (VR), mixed (MR), augmented (AR) and any other sort of reality.

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Dizzying growth is on the cards for augmented and virtual reality headset sales, according to research house IDTechEx, which says the market will reach $37bn by 2020. Most VR use is 360-degree photos and videos on YouTube and Facebook. Most AR use is on Snapchat, while 360-videos and photos make up most VR. This year, 9.6 million people in the United States will use a headset to experience VR monthly.

The gaming industry is driving the growth of virtual reality headset usage, according to eMarketer, which said around 2.9 percent of the U.S. population will use a VR headset this year, a figure expected to grow to 5.2 percent by 2019. In 2017, 9.6 million people in the United States will use a headset to experience VR monthly, up 98.7% over previous year. If Apple does jump into the mix, investors and users can expect an explosion of popularity in the space, considering the massive upgrade cycle for the new device, which promises to be one of the largest overhauls in the iPhone's design since it was introduced ten year ago. As expected, the high volume of mobile VR will not contribute significantly to total revenues due to the low unit value. This year, just 2.9% of the USA population will use a VR headset at least monthly, eMarketer estimates, with that number growing to just 5.2% by 2019.

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