Number of augmented and virtual reality headsets to grow 58% by 2021

Number of augmented and virtual reality headsets to grow 58% by 2021
IDC predicts worldwide shipments of devices like Microsoft HoloLens will hit almost 100 million units

Rebecca Gibson |

Worldwide shipments of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens (pictured) are expected to grow from just under 10 million units in 2016 to almost 100 million units in 2021, according to IDC.

IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker predicts that the number of headsets will grow at a collective compound annual growth rate of 58% over the next five years. VR headsets have led the market in terms of volume to date, and IDC expects it to continue to do so over the five-year forecast period.

“The next six to 18 months will further stimulate the VR market as PC vendors, along with Microsoft, introduce tethered headsets and high-end standalone VR headsets also enter the market,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “With lower hardware requirements on the PC and lower prices on headsets, VR will be more accessible than ever before. And the introduction of additional motion tracking and hand tracking will help further blur the line between digital and physical reality.”

IDC predicts that there is a big opportunity for dedicated AR headsets in the commercial segment, projecting that commercial shipments will account for just over 80% of all AR headsets shipped in the next five years. Currently, there is a high level of interest and investment around AR in vertical markets such as healthcare, manufacturing, field services, and design.

"It is very clear to us that AR is the larger of the two plays here when looking at AR and VR combined,” said Ryan Reith, programme vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. “Companies like Microsoft, Epson, Intel, Meta, ODG and DAQRI are already providing devices that are being deployed in real-time commercial projects with significant return on investment…We believe that many industrial jobs will fundamentally change because of AR in the next five years, and these are much more opportunistic markets for dedicated AR headsets than the consumer market.”

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