XR Association And Perkins Coie Find Heightened Optimism Around Immersive Technology In Fifth Annual XR Industry Insider Survey

XR Association (XRA) – the trade association representing the broad ecosystem that powers the virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (collectively, XR) industries – and leading international law firm Perkins Coie released the results of the fifth annual XR Industry Insider Survey (previously the Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey). The first industry benchmark conducted since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, the survey reveals that COVID-caused disruption has strengthened immersive technology’s prospects, which could continue to rise as the world emerges from the pandemic.

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The survey of 164 XR industry stakeholders shows that the pandemic has supercharged the industry’s sustained momentum of the past half-decade. In light of COVID-19’s effects – namely, social distancing guidelines that forced a global shift toward remote connectivity and increased comfort and familiarity with online and virtual experiences – more than 8 in 10 respondents say investment in immersive technology will increase in 2021 compared with 2020.

“Our survey results reflect two broad categories for how COVID-19 has changed the landscape for immersive technology,” said Elizabeth Hyman, CEO of XRA. “The first category relates to what consumers are expected to do as and after the pandemic draws to a close. The second is about behaviors established during the pandemic that will remain. Put together, and the pandemic will have a lasting legacy in immersive technology’s continued evolution and growth.”

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Among the survey’s key findings are that:

  • Following a global shift toward remote working and learning, 95% of respondents say their organizations plan to increase spending on immersive technology for better remote collaborations and trainings.
  • Following innovative applications of XR technology to COVID-19 research and treatment in 2020, respondents expect the medical field to see the most disruption by XR technology in 2021. The education and retail sectors are similarly poised for disruption by immersive technology.
  • Among enterprise users, 50% say development of more accessible software will be the biggest driver of adoption. Among consumer users, 61% say the availability of and access to open-source software and communities will drive uptake.

“It’s clear that the initial economic disruptions related to COVID-19 didn’t hurt the XR industry’s prospects – and the pandemic’s long-term effects seem to have increased bullish sentiment related to immersive technology,” said Kirk Soderquist, a partner in the Technology Transactions & Privacy practice at Perkins Coie. “These survey results reflect what we’re hearing from XR dealmakers – that 5- to 7-year timelines are being accelerated to 1 to 4 years.”

Conducted in April 2021, the survey was preceded and informed by group interviews with experts in the field. Overall, the results show that immersive technologies continue to expand beyond gaming and entertainment, with sectors like healthcare, education, retail and workforce development and training considered areas of potential growth.