Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to deliver a $1.5 trillion boost to the global economy by 2030.
That’s the major finding of an economic impact assessment conducted by PwC UK economists, published today in their report Seeing is Believing.
From creating new customer experiences to speeding up product development and improving workplace safety, many existing and emerging compelling uses for these technologies promise to drive growth from the current GDP contribution of $46.4 billion.
VR and AR technology will benefit all industries by creating more efficient processes, enhancing training, and offering more ways for people to collaborate and work together. The technology will also have a significant positive impact on the healthcare and retail sectors.
Jeremy Dalton, Head of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, PwC UK says:
“Businesses, the economy and society are at a crucial stage right now in the adoption of VR and AR. The technology and hardware is finally coming of age and VR and AR have the potential to provide a significant boost to the global economy, and also improve the way organisations operate, make processes faster and more effective, educate people more effectively and create incredible user experiences.”
On a country by country basis:
Out of the two technologies, AR will continue to provide the biggest benefits to global GDP through to 2030, accounting for $1.1 trillion of the $1.5 trillion overall.
Globally, the impact of VR and AR on employment over the next decade will be significant.
Currently, fewer than a million jobs are impacted by VR and AR and this will rise to 23 million jobs by 2030, with the biggest impact in large economies like China, the US, the UK, Germany.
The report examines specific use cases where AR and VR will boost innovation and productivity.
Businesses need to take initiative to capitalise on VR and AR
Jeremy Dalton concludes:
“Organisations that may have struggled with seeing how VR and AR fit into their business, need only look at the multiple existing and emerging examples in the research. Now is the time for them to think about how these technologies can improve their performance or they risk being left behind."
“Organisations need to look beyond the software development stage and focus on designing the solution to solve a specific business issue - VR and AR can be used to speed up processes, improve safety, reduce costs or open up new revenue streams.
“The uptake and positive feedback of a VR or AR solution will be largely dependent on how comfortable and intuitive it is to use, so creating a seamless experience is crucial. Start small with a pilot programme to see the technology in action. Follow up by gathering feedback to direct the next step, which could be further investment or a pivot in a different direction, or a completely different path. There is no failure in being better informed.”
Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, Consulting Lead Partner at PwC Thailand, comments:
“For Thailand, we found that clients in many industries have adopted VR and AR to their business. Some have used these technologies to assist in high-risk jobs, training and medical-related work. However, the use of VR and AR is still not widely popular. This is partly because of the limitations of high-speed internet. Once 5G is deployed, internet speeds will be much higher, and both data transmission and data processing will be faster than ever. This will surely accelerate the adoption of both technologies, especially in the retail, media and entertainment and game industries. This rising trend will be one to watch in the coming years as the deployment of 5G networks unlocks the potential of VR and AR, and brings them to the next level.”
This study provides a scenario of the impact VR and AR technology could have on the global economy by 2030, if uptake and the quality of products and services available develop as expected. For each use case identified as likely to have a significant impact on the global economy, a range of sources and techniques to estimate their productivity impact were used. Existing research on their adoption and associated productivity increases, forecasts ABI Research, and PwC economic analysis was drawn on to estimate productivity change that could occur with each use case. The figures presented are in 2019 prices. Further information on the methodology can be found in the report
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