Mixed Reality or Merged Reality (MR) is a hybrid of Virtual Reality and Artificial Reality and aims to offer the best of both worlds. It uses a headset to see through a mounted translucent viewport or glass such as Google Glass and also projects visuals on top of the environment. Mixed Reality can be best demonstrated with the help of a real-life example suppose a worker operates in his field wearing smart glasses, and he receives a diagnostic vision indicating that the system is malfunctioning. A skilled technician in another location provides the worker with detailed digital instructions for repairing the malfunction by walking him through the entire process.
Mixed Reality helps deliver actionable information across industries regardless of operating locations. It is a highly interactive technology as compared to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. It is capable of projecting persons, places, or scenarios as it would really appear in real-life. This eliminates the need for a hand-held device to operate with, rather life-like gestures can be operated with bare hands. Key companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft are leading the AR and MR technology and are expected to significantly contribute to market growth during the forecast period.
Determining the growth of Mixed Reality with precision amidst the growing dominance of AR and VR in the global market is unclear. However, the emergence of a technological solution that allows physical interaction with visuals without a remote controller or operating device is expected to bring new opportunities. Government initiatives and funding by investors will accelerate the global adoption of MR technology during the forecast period.
The presence of investors, such as Alphabet’s Google Ventures, Alibaba, Andreessen Horowitz, and Magic Leap, is expected to uplift the global MR market significantly over the upcoming years. Pokemon Go is a classic example of an Augmented Reality in recent years. However, it still requires smartphones with an up-to-date OS, a camera, and an AR app. Technological advancements and further developments in MR technology can create a near-real gaming experience without the use of screens.
The physical convenience in case of long hours of use and ease of operation is further setting high hopes for the growth of Mixed Reality. Applications in various industry verticals to examine complex scenarios and formulate effective solutions are fuelling technology adoption. 3D models based on MR can be manipulated by designers and engineers in the manufacturing and production sector to provide cutting edge services to customers. Therefore, despite the limited possibilities due to the dominance of AR and VR, MR is still anticipated to grow rapidly, owing to its appreciation by various industry specialists and boundless offerings.
The rising popularity of 5G across the world, with countries, rapidly upgrading their network infrastructure, increasing affordability, and availability of low-cost hardware is driving the Mixed Reality market growth. Industrial advancements with the inclusion of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has expanded the scope of Mixed Reality in the manufacturing, production, and healthcare sectors. There is an increasing demand for virtual realizations and real-time interactive applications in the gaming and entertainment industries worldwide.
The development of 3D animation technologies, and VFX, among others, are driving new consumer experiences. Interactive sessions are trending in the education industry to make learning more inclusive. The increase in smartphone adoption has given people access to new platforms where Mixed Reality can be incorporated to provide students with digital learning and 3D model explanations on complex topics. Schools and colleges can help students engage in fun and digital activities such as hand exercises and quiz solving with the help of Mixed Reality. For instance, the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Portugal, integrates digital technology into math lessons to make math helpful, easy, and interesting.
The biggest hurdle for the growth of the Mixed Reality market is the price of AR/MR headsets. Secondly, the limited use (only in some specific applications) and confined gesture controls have compressed the market further, with most users waiting for the prices to come down. These restraining factors may slow down the commercialization of Mixed Reality in the near future, but the long-term benefits of the technology are undeniable. It is emerging as a trustworthy technique for industry verticals to improve their operational efficiency.
Holographic experiences help understand a situation in a real-like situation and take necessary actions beforehand. Immersive experiences such as mapping physical surroundings, and voice recognition, among others, offer an uninterrupted personalized view to the decision-makers. MR embodiment in manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and real estate can transform a product review into a 360-degree virtual walkthrough, allowing the client to invest more in the product.
Product manufacturers, maintenance, defense, navigation, gaming and entertainment, healthcare education, sports, tourism, construction, Interactive Product Content Management (IPCM), Simulation-Based Learning (SBL), and end-user robotics are some of the notable end-users of the global Mixed Reality market.
Mixed Reality is gaining widespread attention in North America to eliminate potential risks associated with investments and decision making. Leading players and business experts from the U.S. and Canada are realizing new horizons of the MR technology to identify emerging opportunities, manage irregularities in the workplace, and develop appropriate business models. Mixed Reality is also paving its way in North America’s entertainment, education, healthcare, and games and sports industry. 5G and upgraded network infrastructure will accelerate the fusion of Mixed Reality into everyday life activities in the next couple of years.
Europe is leveraging the unparalleled potential of Mixed Reality in the sports, military, and aerospace and defense sectors. There are approximately 300 players in the Mixed Reality segment in Europe who are battling for superiority. The U.K. and Spain are expected to lead in deploying VR/MR into gaming and sports, owing to a massive game lover population and an increase in gamification. On the other hand, cities like Paris, Madrid, Munich, Rome, and Milan, among others, are harnessing their tourist spots, turning them into a fascinating simulation experience for the traveler.
China and South Korea are emerging as early recognizers of Mixed Reality in comparison to other countries of the continent. The two regions are already leaders in electronics and communication networks, closely followed by Japan. Xiaomi launched its MI VR, and Samsung released the Gear VR in 2016. Affordable price ranges set by the two countries for their products attract consumers. The regions also offer a lucrative investment site for optimistic investors in online games.
Countries of South America have shown a massive adoption of internet technology and smartphones in recent years. Changing consumer behavior has already given way to established VR technology-based systems. An increase in collaborations and investments in emerging companies will help build technology brands and promotional opportunities for Mixed Reality as well.
Dubai is an emerging hub for smart education and learning. The situation has just grown multi-fold with the adoption of Augmented and Mixed Reality. The recent establishment of a Smart Training Hub for the Geographical Information Systems Center at Dubai Municipality is a classic example. The training hub will use MR technology for field training, product quality check, and surveying tasks while sitting inside a room. Content creators of Dubai, as well as other Middle Eastern regions, are interested in the amalgamation of Mixed Reality and the physical world to impersonate the real world in real-time.
The continent of Africa presents incredible opportunities for artificial intelligence professionals and investors. Even though consumer awareness is rapidly increasing, allowing users to utilize digitalization to the fullest, it is still restricted to a defined portion of the population. Therefore, there is a need for AR/MR technologies to be inclusive and penetrate fully into society. To realize the need, Microsoft has taken the initiative by launching its first Africa Development Centre (ADC), in Nairobi, Kenya. It is aimed at increasing the number of female employees in technology. As a part of the initiative, female engineers from the region are working on AI, machine learning, and Mixed Reality.
Significant players are involved in strategic developments and joint ventures in order to gain a global presence in the global Mixed Reality market. Some of the major industry participants in the market include
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