Forget Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, we should be thinking Mixed Reality. This is according to Juniper Research, who don’t quite get the irony of reality being, um, real.
They say that mixed reality (as a market) will grow from a piffling $8 billion this year to a rather less than piffling $43 billion by 2024. In fact they believe it will probably exceed this figure.
That said, the company urges smart glass vendors to incorporate 5G and edge computing capabilities in the hardware they produce to enable this explosive growth.
Like many technological advances before it, mixed reality will rely on content development as well as the hardware capabilities and 40% of the market will rely on social media for its distribution and consumption.
It is odd, perhaps, that the research house believes that the consumer market will drive this mixed reality explosion. After all, the obvious applications for virtual reality and augmented reality are in the enterprise – in areas such as training and planning and visualising.
This whole arena must rely on our ability to adapt to new ideas. The computer, as we know it (and yes, we have said this before), is changing. No longer is it a keyboard and a mouse and a screen. Now it is becoming embedded, part of our fridge, our car, our home.
While this explosive growth forecast is as good a guess as any, it does seem that it depends on a lot of things happening that, historically, do not happen fast. Human inertia and our comfort zones are not easily disrupted and just because we live and trust a world driven and managed by technology does not mean we embrace the next big thing without some persuasion.
Mixed reality will probably end up in the melting pot of the next generation of technology and human convergence. Zuckerberg might, one day, read your mind. Musk might meld it from Mars.
And one day, all of that will be in mixed reality mode, whatever that may be.
But should we expect these giant strides by 2024. Probably not, but it is certainly food for thought.