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What to expect from AR/VR in 2021

This year is expected to usher in significant developments in the augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) space. With more people switching to a remote work setting and international travel becoming a pipe dream for most, different uses of AR/VR are now more relevant than ever. We at echoAR have been following the exciting developments in the AR/VR world for years now, and can’t wait to see what 2021 brings with it to the industry. Here are just some of the most anticipated developments in the AR/VR space expected this year:

1) VR Events will officially be a thing!

VR performances are quickly becoming the norm for live events, music concerts, and festivals. With COVID-19 still a reality, many event planners are also looking for innovative ways to put together an experience for their viewers that feels as close to real life as possible. Many events planned for 2021, such as the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, and the Tribeca Film Festival are all moving online and will be incorporating many VR experiences. Read more about it here.

Accordingly, TouchCast recently announced a raise of $55M to grow its mixed reality-based virtual event platform.

© Engadget

2) Social Networks are going 3D!

Forget your boring 2D feed! 2021 is the year in which our social interactions will be going 3D and will be more interactive than ever. We already covered a lot of exciting news from Snap last year. Snapchat is used by more than 250 million active user who engage with AR filters on a daily basis, and this number is expected to grow in 2021. Facebook has also reported that its social VR experience, Facebook Horizon, where users can explore, play and create in VR, is seeing more and more users joining (currently in beta). Similar to how we share images and video content today on social media, expect to see people in 2021 sharing 3D models as part of their daily interactions. JPEG and GIFs will soon be joined by GLB and USDZ.

© Facebook

3) New and better headsets!

Magic Leap’s new and improved second-generation AR headset is expected to launch in Q4 2021. More details are also expected to surface regarding Apple’s rumored VR headset, which some industry insiders claim would go into initial small-volume production during 2021. Here’s a great overview of what else to expect from Apple in the AR/VR space.

© Magic Leap

During CES 2021, we also heard a lot of new announcements about new AR smartglasses and VR headsets. Vuzix showed off new consumer-ready microLED smartglasses and won 3 CES 2021 Innovation Awards. We are closer than ever to overcoming the usability issue of bulky and uncomfortable glasses, with these next generation glasses that include a tiny MicroLED compact projector which uses MicroLED technology. This MicroLED technology is small enough that it fits into the glasses’ frame without being obtrusive. Lenovo also released the ThinkReality A3, a versatile smart glasses for the enterprise, while TCL debuted their own commercially-ready Wearable Display glasses.

© Vuzix


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4) Rapid adoption in new and existing Industries!

According to the latest report from Statista, the global augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) markets are rapidly growing and are forecast to reach a total of $72.8 billion by 2024, a five-year CAGR increase of 54%. 2021 is expected to be a big part of that rapid growth, with an accelerated adaptation of AR/VR technologies in almost every major business sectors (think retail, healthcare, education, travel, fashion, entertainment, real estate, workplace, sports, law enforcement, and more). According to Forbes, four industries that will be particularly affected by AR in 2021, will be eCommerce, food service, manufacturing, and education. AR marketing is expected to revolutionize eCommerce and help draw the attention from weary consumers, who are now mostly shopping online and are looking for easy “try before you buy” options from the safety of their homes.

© Warby Parker

4) More VR games than ever!

VR games are becoming more sophisticated as the headsets continue to improve. Many anticipated games like After the Fall and The Climb 2 are expected to be released in 2021, and are expected to include engaging multiplayer options. Here’s is our list of the best VR games coming in 2021.

5) Improvements to software and hardware

Expect to see significant improvements in AR/VR software and hardware later this year. Ultraleap is adding more options for users to use hand-tracking and haptics to track hand motions and enable touchless interactions. Ganzin is introducing new eye-tracking solutions that allows user hand-free control. echoAR is rolling out even more functionalities as part of its cloud platform for AR/VR apps, making the development process of such apps that much easier. bHaptics is creating a full body haptic suit for VR experiences.

© bHaptics

All these exciting announcements are evidence that the AR/VR space is constantly evolving and we cannot wait to see what this year has in store for AR/VR!

Did we miss any of advancements in AR/VR excepted in 2021? Let us know on our community channel.

echoAR (http://www.echoAR.xyz; Techstars ’19) is a cloud platform for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that provides tools and server-side infrastructure to help developers & companies quickly build and deploy AR/VR apps and experiences.