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AR/MR/VR optics & displays market will grow to over $28bn by 2030

08 September 2020

The new IDTechEx report, “Optics and Displays in AR, VR, and MR 2020-2030: Technologies, Players and Markets”, covers the complete range of optics and display technologies which are used in spatial reality products.

By 2030, IDTechEx predicts the augmented, virtual and mixed reality optics and display markets to total to over $28Bn. With COVID limiting physical interaction, virtual communication and interaction will be the normal for many years to come. Although seen as futuristic by some, augmented, virtual and mixed reality devices have shown they have an important part to play in many different industries. They are truly the technology of the future, today. 

Through deep analysis of both key players and technologies, IDTechEx’s most recent report on Augmented and Virtual Reality in Optics and Displays can provide you with the trends this market will face in the coming decade. This article distils the key aspects of the report.

What is the AR/MR and VR optics market?

A simple explanation of optics and displays in AR and VR devices is as follows:

• Optics deliver the image from a display to the human eye

Displays create the image

Together they are combined to create the overall immersive experience of an augmented/mixed reality headset or a virtual reality headset. In order to get the image into the user’s eye, a number of steps are required. The optical system is normally made up of a micro-display and imaging optics. The display can be one of a number of types, for example, LCD, OLED, MOLED, LCoS. In VR, a lens then directs the image from the display into the user’s eye. In AR, a combiner is required to combine the display image with that of the real world.

Why do optics and displays matter?

Optics influence the immersiveness of an AR/MR or a VR experience. If a user has effects such as God Rays, Rainbow effects, or headaches due to the vergence-accommodation issue, this can contribute to a negative experience. In the future, these problems will be overcome, and improvements and changes to the optical market in both AR/MR and VR devices are an important contributor to these trends. Displays also play an important part of the device – they create the image to be sent to the user. Different displays have different benefits, for example, a better brightness, or a better colour gamut. These benefits are more applicable for certain applications, for example, AR devices typically require a high brightness to see the image in outdoor sunlight. 

Which optics are considered in the report?

The report discusses the benefits and drawbacks of different optical methods and set-ups, with case studies from a number of the major players in these markets. Within VR devices, the main optics are Fresnel lenses. These lenses magnify the display for the user to see and has a big impact on the experience a user has when using a spatial reality device. The immersive experience for many users is defined by their first experience – if this is a positive experience, there is a high likelihood that they will continue to use the device.

Which micro-displays are considered in the report?

Typically, different micro-displays have been used for different spatial reality devices. For example, VR devices have historically used OLED or LCD micro-displays, used in the smartphone industry for many years, and they are a mature, high yield manufacturing choice for VR devices. However, in AR/MR devices, LCoS displays are the most common, because they provide a high brightness and good resolution quality for input to the optical waveguide. This report covers the six most important types of micro-display within spatial reality devices: LCD, OLED, DLP, LCoS, OLED-on-Si and mLED.

What is in the report?

This report covers the forecasts for both the optical and display markets in AR/MR and VR markets. The current state of these markets are discussed and analysed with long-range forecasts from 2020-2030 for revenue and volume by technology in:

• AR/MR Optics

• VR Optics

• AR/MR micro-displays

• VR micro-displays

Key questions answered in the report

• How has COVID impacted the AR/VR market?

• What are the major drivers for optic choice in an AR/MR or VR device?

• What are the major drivers for display choice in an AR/MR or VR device?

• What the strengths and weaknesses of the six major micro-display types used in AR/MR and VR devices?

• How will the micro-display choice change in the future?

• How will the sales of optical devices and display devices evolve from 2020-2030?

What is the impact of COVID-19?

Recently the versatility of mixed and augmented reality products has come to the forefront of the news, with an Imperial led project at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Doctors have been wearing the Microsoft Hololens headsets whilst working on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, to aid them in their care for their patients. 

The use case for this project allows other clinicians to sit in another room, and by using Microsoft Teams, see a live video feed of the doctor who is treating the COVID-19 patients. This is utilising the remote assistance aspects which have been previously used by Hololens users for manufacturing, maintenance, and other similar applications. By using the devices, staff reduced the amount of time they must spend in a high-risk area by 83%. Not only this, they are using less PPE, as fewer clinicians are in the room during patient care. 

COVID has put the spotlight on this hands-free, interactive technology, and it is unlikely that this focus will move for some time. There will be a need for this technology in many new use cases, which previously did not require hands-free, or remote capabilities.

Where can I find more information?

To find out more about the new IDTechEx report “Optics and Displays in AR, VR, and MR 2020-2030: Technologies, Players and Markets”, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/ARVROptics, or for the full portfolio of related research available from IDTechEx please visit www.IDTechEx.com/Research


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