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It takes three things for a technology to imbed itself in any activity.

  • It has to work
  • It has to be useful
  • It has to be economical
  • It has to be familiar to those who will be using it or at least easy to learn

Until now AR headsets did not live up to several of the above criteria. That is changing and within the year employers needing to provide computer like technology to workers needing both hands to do their job while viewing content will become mainstream. Research has proven to those who make the technology that investments to perfect AR headsets will pay off. Some of that research follows.

Good news for fans of virtual reality and augmented reality: the market is about to hit a period of “breakneck” growth, according to  research firm IDC.

Total “headset device shipments,” says IDC, referring to things one wears on one’s head, will rise to 99.4 million units in 2021, the firm believes, which would be almost 10 times the 10.1 million units the industry shipped last year. “This results in a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58% across the five-year forecast period.”

IDC sees corporate usage, especially for augmented reality — examples of which include glasses by Vuzix (VUZI) and Microsoft’s (MSFT) HoloLens — to rise faster than consumer. The split I’m shipments last year was 80-20 in favor of consumer, but by 2021 it will be more like 40-60 commercial-consumer, the firm believes.

IDC relates how it sees things evolving:

For enterprise users, AR and VR is expected to raise productivity, allowing workers to see and interact with data, like a building blueprint or the organs of a human being, instead of viewing a static image on a screen. Changes and procedures can be mapped out ahead of time before moving on to the actual work, saving companies two precious resources: time and cost. Vertical markets, such as manufacturing and design, health care, transportation, and retail stand to benefit the most. Meanwhile, for consumers, AR and VR will provide immersive experiences to consume content. Already, content providers are developing solutions to bring “as-if-you-were-there” experiences, like attending a concert or sports event from the comfort of one’s couch. Additionally, gaming on AR and VR will transport players into outer space or the battlefield, several steps beyond what they currently experience on a PC or television screen. Layer on top of this the social element that users will have sharing experiences and it becomes clear how AR and VR will appeal to consumers.