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Virtual reality doesn’t quite need an introduction. Not today. 

While VR can be bragged as a miracle, this miracle is inaccessible to most. A leading reason why virtual reality may not as celebrated as its sister technology ‘augmented reality’. Despite having made a fair share of contributions to the technological as well as non-technological space. 

Since the term was first coined in the 80’s, it has come a long way. Today VR is being leveraged to train pilots, assist doctors, and help patients with PTSD among other wonders. 

I’ll let the stats and facts on virtual reality take over from here for an insight into the market. 

Virtual Reality (VR) Stats & Facts

Virtual Reality Market Stats

1. The global virtual and augmented reality market is estimated at $16.8 billion and could potentially reach a staggering $160 billion by 2023. (source: statista)

Both AR and VR industry growth is predicted to skyrocket in the coming years!

2. As per an eMarketer report, by 2020-end, more people will be using VR and AR in the US in 2020. (source: emarketer)

Virtual reality market statistics predict that 52.1 million and 82.1 million people in the United States will use VR and AR respectively at least once a month this year. This accounts for 15.7% and 25% of the total US population. This is a significant boost.

3. Worldwide spending on VR content and apps is expected to reach a whopping $3.77B in 2021. (source: techjury)

Glory be to accessible hardware, faster Internet speeds and a responsive audience, the figures in the last 4-5 years have been impressive.

4. The number of VR startups has increased by 14% in less than a year and the number will likely increase! (source: techjury)

What’s more, as of January 2020, the number of VR startups worldwide listed on AngelList was 2,270 and that is quite a leap from a little over 1,800 in May 2018.

5. The worldwide consumer virtual reality market, segmented into hardware and software, is set to hit 2.6 billion US dollars worldwide in 2020. (source: statista)

This, however, is a 0.7 billion US dollars dip from the previous year, due to the ghastly economic impact brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

6. As many as 14 million AR and VR devices were sold in 2019 alone! (source: techjury)

This is impressive in comparison to the dip to 8 million devices in 2018. Even more so considering how 10 million devices were sold in 2017.  

Virtual Reality User Statistics

7. As many as 70% of VR users are anticipated to enhance their usage in the coming year. (source: techjury)

With increasing familiarity and more content, there seems to be the possibility of a noticeable increase in VR use in the coming months. 

8. The cost of hardware  is the key roadblock that continues to hold the pace of VR adoption low. (source: techjury)

High-end VR app users are relatively more likely (54 percent) to find hardware costs as the defining factor for keeping more users from embracing VR as opposed to budget users (48 percent) or mid-range users (50 percent).

9. 64% of VR users agree that VR has the greatest gaming potential. (source: techjury)

In a virtual reality survey, about two-thirds of users claimed that gaming is the area that would profit most from VR technology. This could be a manifestation of the VR industry’s evolution thus far, with the potential of technology not as publicly recognized in other areas.

10. Virtual reality statistics indicate that once users have actually tried out both AR and VR, their perception changes, with 50% saying AR has a greater potential to hit the mainstream compared to 47% in favor of VR. (source: techjury)

This has everything to do with the fact that for AR you do not need a head-mounted device. 

11. According to Statista, 171 million people today are using the VR technology. (source: statista)

More than 14 million Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) are projected to be shipped this year. It is also estimated that the number of users will rise to 171 million based on 2019 VR data.

12. Approximately 78% of Americans today are familiar with VR technology. (source: forbes)

This reflects a drastic improvement from just a 45% in 2015.

13. 41% of adults have said that if presented with the opportunity, they would try virtual reality. (source: arstechnica)

Meanwhile, 15% of people had experienced VR, with just eight percent of women who had already used the technology, 36% wanted to and a  21% demonstrated interest.

Virtual Reality in Healthcare

14. Virtual reality helps accelerate recovery and cognitive rehabilitation of patients. (source: ahajournals)

Patients with cognitive or related disorders spurred by any brain injury are very often confronted with a lack of ability and willingness to take part in therapy at a patient’s part. This can be effectively dealt with by VR tools.

15. Virtual Reality is being leveraged to aid people with low vision. (source: hopkinsmedicine)

IrisVison, a low vision enhancement system, is one such instance. It was developed in collaboration with Stanford University’s Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

16.Companies such as Osso VR and Immersive Touch come up with solutions for virtual reality to coach surgeons and/or fine-tune their skill sets. These have proven to be effective in comparison to older training regimes. (source: microsites)

In addition, a recent Harvard Business Review report discovered that VR-trained surgeons had an overall performance uptick of 230 percent opposed to their traditionally trained peers.

17. VR devices such as the HoloLens are already being used to teach the human anatomy to medical students at Case Western University. (source: zednet)

VR is revolutionizing medical education and retains great potential. The above-mentioned examples will soon become a standard practice.

18. Medical practitioners at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford are leveraging the True 3D to execute a heart surgery, allowing them to comprehend the anatomy of a patient prior to actually making an incision. (source: stanfordchildrens)

A woman, Gina Milner, required valve replacement surgery. Her surgeon used True 3D to turn Milner’s CT scans into an immersive virtual 3D model of her heart , lungs, and chest cavity.

Virtual Reality in Gaming & Entertainment

19. Around 70% of people who own a dedicated VR headset like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Sony Playstation VR have purchased games for it. (source: ccsinsight)

And around half of owners of  smartphone VR headset  have also purchased games for their app.

20. Films such as ‘Disclosure’ starring Michael Douglas, “Johnny Mnemonic starring Keanu Reeves” feature VR technology in terrific ways. (source: wired)

Hollywood is no stranger to virtual reality.

21.  Virtual reality game developers leverage object-based audio to create the immersive effect. (source: aes)

For instance, engine noise, speeding vehicles roar, or the sounds created by nature.

23. The British Museum went creative and used VR devices to engage adults and kids with their collections from the Bronze Age. (source: guardian)

Visitors could walk through the ancient landscapes and interact with the artifacts using a VR controller.

24. About 53.9% of Americans expect to use VR for playing video games.

(source: statista)

There has been a steady rise in the sales of gaming headsets like HTC Vive, Playstation VR, Valve Index, and Oculus Rift, regardless of the pricing.

25. According to forecasts by Greenlight Insights, the location-based virtual reality entertainment businesses are about to grow to $825 million by 2021. (source: jasoren)

Cinemas can top this emerging market. Currently, the most successful adept of VR cinema is IMAX.

26. Lion King live-action was filmed using virtual reality. Cool, right?  (source: wired)

“We had a full live-action film crew in VR, operating camera equipment as though it was a live-action set,” said Jon Favreau, the director of Lion King.

Virtual Reality in Transportation

27. Virtual Reality is being used for pilot training now! (source: af)

An Air Force pilot training program from Austin, Texas has incorporated VR into its syllabus. Trainers found that the response was considerably similar to those seen in the real world.

28. Anglian Water (water firm) began using VR earlier this year to groom their drivers for better road safety. (source: anglianwater)

The training app is interactive, responsive and can coach up to 35 drivers per session, providing vital cost-saving benefits. 

‘What’s more, the program also offers real-time feedback based on trainee performance.

29. NASA was one of the early adopters of VR technology. The need surfaced in 1993, when the Hubble Telescope required complex maintenance work. They used VR to prepare the astronauts to maneuver the shuttle arm when weightless. (source: techrepublic)

Today NASA has an exclusive VR lab of its own for training crews for space walks, zero-g mass handling training as well as robotics operations.

30. Volkswagen Group’s VR training trains employees in an interactive 3D space, improving efficiency, and decreasing costs. (source: unity)

Imagine that training is accessible to anyone anytime or wherever, as much as needed. This is now a possibility for the Volkswagen Group kudos to Unity’s solution, built by Innoactive.

Virtual Reality in Education 

31. Over 60% of parents believe that virtual reality will help their kids with educational content and enhance their educational experience. (source: futurity)

On the contrary, 60 percent of parents are worried about health and safety problems. In fact, only 22% of children with access to VR gear use it for learning purposes, contrary to the 76% who use it for video games.

32. Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) at NC State University is using virtual reality for varying disciplines. (source: scribd)

For instance, Introductory Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Biodiversity (BIO 181) to immerse students in field-based experiences. 

33. Another institute – Penn State University – in Pennsylvania is leveraging VR to train students in the virtual world prior to practicing in the real world, making it more effective and engaging. (source: news.psu)

Some institutes such as University of British Columbia in Vancouver are already experimenting with virtual lecture halls. 

34.  A majority of media organizations have already hopped the VR storytelling wagon, including the popular ones like The New York Times and The Economist. (source: edtechmagazine)

And it actually sits well with the mainstream use of news media in education and making it an ideal place for educators. searching for VR content.

35. Virtual Reality (VR) technology is being leveraged to aid special needs children.. (source: variety)

The Jackson School in Melbourne , Australia for instance is using the Oculus Rift to support children with special needs and the Silesian University of Technology in Silesia Poland is facilitating therapeutic exercises with autistic children using virtual reality technology.

Virtual Reality in Marketing

36. The New York Times issued Google Cardboard glasses to all of its subscribers a good few years ago to stream a VR movie and then repeated the process with different movies a few times over. (source: the verge)

The emotional impact this experience generated viewers helped increase brand loyalty for all three products: the New York Times, the glasses,and the featured. Marketing executed right!  

37. Volvo leverages VR technology to allow customers to test drive a car before finalizing the purchase. Perhaps it is one of VR ‘s finest and most fun usage especially if you don’t have a dealer available. (source: digitalmarketinginstitute)

They continue rolling out with latest releases that can be quickly downloaded to your smartphone. This is yet another Google Cardboard initiative, that can also be installed as an application (even if you don’t have Google Cardboard).

38. The well-known hiking shoe brand Merrell created the perfect VR experience as part of launching their latest innovative hiking shoe through TrailScape, a 4-D multi-sensory hiking experience. (source: nytimes)

This was the very first time that a company had ever used VR technology called Oculus Rift, which includes interactive walking elements on various surfaces. It also included challenges such as rock slides that users had to traverse around.

39. Lowe’s home renovation store has established a virtual reality program that enables shoppers to enter a Holoroom allowing them to visualize what their house looks like after the necessary modification in the house. (source: retailwire)

They also partnered with Microsoft to develop an experience that enabled people to pick designs and items to help envision how they would look like inside their own homes. Coming up soon is an integration of Pinterest boards for shoppers.

40. A few moons earlier, a UK-based travel agency, Thomas Cook, launched a campaign called “Try Before You Fly” that permitted travel agents to experience trips to sell them to customers. (source: digitalmarketinginstitute)

Although the unique campaign did not in fact take wing, it is a classic example of the ways VR marketing can be leveraged in the B2B and B2C tourism space.