API Development
Digital Platforms

Emerging VR and AR Trends for Startups

6 min
Cozy Ventures

The technologies of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are rapidly advancing, offering a wealth of opportunities for startups. By 2024, the global market for AR and VR is expected to surpass $72.8 billion, fueled by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54% from 2020 to 2024. This explosive growth highlights the immense potential for innovation and investment in these technologies. Startups are uniquely poised to take advantage of these trends, developing innovative applications and solutions for a wide range of industries and consumers.

1. Cross-Platform AR Applications

Cross-platform development is becoming increasingly crucial for startups aiming to maximize their reach. Different devices and operating systems present unique challenges, and building native applications for each platform can be resource-intensive. Cross-platform tools like Unity and Unreal Engine allow developers to create AR applications that work seamlessly across multiple devices, reducing costs and time-to-market.

For example, a startup developing an AR-based e-commerce platform can use these tools to ensure compatibility with both iOS and Android devices, thus reaching a wider audience. This approach not only enhances user accessibility but also streamlines the development process, making it more efficient and cost-effective.

2. AR in Marketing

AR technology is revolutionizing marketing by creating immersive and interactive customer experiences. 64% of online shoppers believe AR can improve their shopping experience, with AR applications boosting conversion rates by up to 94%. Startups can leverage AR for virtual product demonstrations, interactive advertisements, and immersive brand storytelling.

For instance, AR-enhanced business cards can include interactive elements that provide additional information or direct links to websites. Similarly, AR user manuals offer step-by-step guidance and interactive troubleshooting, enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing support costs. These innovative applications help startups differentiate themselves in a competitive market, driving customer engagement and loyalty.

3. Cloud-Based VR Solutions

Cloud-based VR solutions are transforming the VR by offloading heavy computational tasks to the cloud. This allows users to enjoy high-quality VR experiences on more affordable hardware, making VR accessible to a broader audience. The global consumer spending on VR/AR is expected to reach $72.8 billion by 2024, reflecting a significant investment in these technologies.

Startups can capitalize on this trend by developing cloud-based VR platforms for remote work, training, and collaboration. For example, LetsVR offers a cloud-based platform that enables VR-powered collaboration, reducing the need for physical meetings and enhancing remote teamwork. Similarly, XRStream provides cloud PC streaming for VR games, allowing gamers to enjoy high-quality experiences without expensive hardware investments.

4. Volumetric VR

Volumetric VR captures 3D models of real-world objects and environments, offering more interactive and immersive experiences. This technology is gaining traction in fields such as education, entertainment, and healthcare. By creating realistic 3D representations, volumetric VR allows users to interact with virtual objects from any angle, enhancing the sense of presence and engagement.

Startups like Iconic Engine are leveraging volumetric VR to create and distribute immersive content for location-based entertainment and metaverse experiences. Another example is Volograms, which uses AI to convert 2D photos and videos into realistic 3D models, making it easier to integrate volumetric VR into various platforms and applications.

5. AR for Indoor and Outdoor Navigation

AR technology is enhancing navigation by providing intuitive and immersive ways to guide users through both indoor and outdoor environments. This trend is particularly valuable for startups in tourism, logistics, and real estate, where accurate navigation and spatial awareness are critical. The number of mobile AR users is expected to reach 1.73 billion by 2024, highlighting the growing adoption of AR navigation solutions.

For instance, AR can be used to guide tourists through historical sites with interactive information overlays or help shoppers navigate large malls more efficiently. By providing real-time, context-aware navigation aids, AR enhances user experiences and helps businesses engage their customers more effectively.

6. Industry-Specific AR Solutions

Wearable AR devices tailored for industrial applications are enhancing productivity and safety for frontline workers. Devices like the RealWear Navigator 520 and Microsoft HoloLens 2 offer hands-free operation, rugged design, and integration with industrial software, making them ideal for sectors like manufacturing, maintenance, and field services. AR in industrial applications is projected to grow significantly, with 65% of AR use cases shifting towards these sectors by 2024.

These devices enable workers to access real-time information, receive remote assistance, and follow digital workflows, improving efficiency and reducing errors. For example, the RealWear Navigator 520 supports voice-controlled operation, allowing workers to keep their hands free for tasks. Similarly, the HoloLens 2 provides a high-resolution holographic display used in design, healthcare, and education to create immersive and interactive experiences.

7. Gaming and Entertainment

The gaming and entertainment sectors continue to drive innovation in AR and VR. Advancements in multiplayer AR games and location-based gaming experiences are creating new opportunities for startups. By integrating AR elements, developers can create immersive games that engage players in unique and interactive ways. The VR gaming market alone is expected to see significant growth, with head-mounted displays accounting for 60% of the global VR revenue share.

Startups like Mohx-games are developing platforms for multiplayer AR and VR games, enhancing the social aspect of gaming. Another example is smar.toys, which integrates AR gameplay with existing toys, making it easier for new gamers to access immersive experiences without expensive hardware.

8. AI and Machine Learning in AR/VR

AI and machine learning are enhancing AR and VR experiences by providing features like object recognition, gesture tracking, and personalized content delivery. This integration allows startups to create smarter and more adaptive applications, offering a competitive edge in the market. The AR and VR healthcare market, for instance, is projected to grow from $0.58 billion in 2022 to $7.05 billion by 2030, driven by AI-enabled diagnostics and treatment planning.

AI-powered AR applications can offer real-time translations, personalized shopping experiences, and advanced analytics for marketing campaigns. In VR, AI can enhance virtual environments with realistic interactions and adaptive learning scenarios, making training programs more effective and engaging.

Final Thoughts

The future of VR and AR is bright and full of opportunities for developers. By focusing on cross-platform development, leveraging cloud-based solutions, exploring volumetric VR, and integrating AI and ML, you can create cutting-edge applications that stand out. Whether it's in marketing, navigation, industrial applications, or gaming, the potential for innovation and impact in the AR and VR space is immense. The market is booming, the technology is advancing, and the opportunities are endless.

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