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AR and VR set to enhance jobs and boost GDP

New headset technologies and 5G networking promise to lower costs, and make AR and VR more user friendly

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) could boost the global economy by 1.8% to $1.5tn by 2030, according to the Seeing is believing report by PwC.

In the UK, PwC said AR and VR could contribute 2.4% growth to the UK’s economy, resulting in an increase of $69bn in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) and support 401,000 jobs.

The German economy could grow by 2.5% thanks to AR and VR, giving a $104bn boost to its GDP, while France could see growth of 1.6%, according to PwC, representing a $50bn increase in its GDP.

PwC reported that the US could see the largest benefits, with AR and VR contributing 2.8% to its GDP, representing a $537bn boost to the US economy. PwC said the technologies could lead to the enhancement of 2.3 million US jobs.

The PwC report noted that a  major benefit VR and AR offer organisations is the training of employees and testing of procedures, including the simulation of realistic scenarios and even high-risk environments.

“By bringing together teams from any location into a single virtual space, VR and AR technology may also accelerate product development. Design teams can explore, test and evaluate different concepts easily without having to invest in physical prototypes. This potentially allows organisations to bring higher quality products to market faster,” the report noted.

PwC forecast that the use of VR and AR in development and training could provide a £265.2bn boost to global GDP by 2030

Read more about AR and VR

In the report, PwC discussed the benefits of new technologies in improving the user experience of AR and VR headsets. “Headsets are now lighter, cheaper and more comfortable to use and there are significant improvements being made around the field of view, resolution and software,” the report noted.

PwC also stated that gigabit per second speeds promised by 5G networks would benefit VR and AR through reduced latency, delivering a smoother, richer and more engrossing user experience. “5G will also mean headsets are no longer as reliant on built-in processing or storage, likely bringing down cost and enabling more user-friendly designs,” the report stated.

The use of haptics to provide users with the sensation of touch has the potential to enhance user interfaces, according to PwC. The report noted that haptics could be deployed to provide intuitive gestural controls in workstations, which could lead to increased productivity or add an extra dimension to data visualisation.

Jeremy Dalton, head of virtual reality and augmented reality at PwC, said: “Organisations need to look beyond the software development stage and focus on designing the solution to solve a specific business issue – VR and AR can be used to speed up processes, improve safety, reduce costs or open up new revenue streams.

“The uptake and positive feedback of a VR or AR solution will be largely dependent on how comfortable and intuitive it is to use, so creating a seamless experience is crucial,” he said. “Start small with a pilot programme to see the technology in action.

“Follow up by gathering feedback to direct the next step, which could be further investment or a pivot in a different direction, or a completely different path,” said Dalton. “There is no failure in being better informed.”

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