Augmented reality (AR) is expected to be worth $60.55bn by 2023, according to data published by MarketsandMarkets. The research attributes this expected growth to rising investments in the AR market.

Augmented reality, which sees digital elements blend with the real world, was worth $4.21bn in 2017.

The forecast means the AR market will grow at a compound interest growth rate of 40.29%.

Various sectors have been exploring ways to use the technology. In healthcare, surgeons at St Mary’s Hospital, London, have been using Microsoft HoloLens to provide visual assistance during surgery.

Interest from emergency services has also been high, with plans to use an AR overlay in the US to track the position of firefighters in a burning building.

Jeremy Dalton, head of VR/AR at PwC, told Verdict:

“Once Augmented Reality becomes a default part of the devices in everyone’s pocket it will enhance the business case for developing further AR applications and help build greater comfort with its use in society, both of which will help drive adoption.”

Social use driving the AR market

While AR is used to assist industry in niche ways, social media companies such as Snapchat have brought the technology to a consumer audience. Facebook has also made moves into the AR market and recently launched two new AR games on its Messenger service.

Dalton believes the social aspect is important to the technology becoming accepted.

“The evolution of multiplayer AR is at the beginning of its journey with previews now live from the likes of both Facebook and Apple,” he said.

“This will be significant in driving further adoption due to the social (and more dynamic) nature of these applications.”

Snapchat’s AR filters, which can give users dog features or change the shape of their face, can also be sponsored by brands. With the opportunity to generate another revenue stream from advertisers, platforms are likely to continue investing in AR technologies.

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“Monetisation of AR will be less direct while the applications and use cases mature, so we’re likely to see less direct app store sales and more of a freemium/advertisement-based model,” said Dalton.

The MarketsandMarkets report also forecast the virtual reality (VR) market to be worth $34.08bn by 2023, a 33.95% increase. The report indicated lower prices for VR headsets as a factor.

Although the research predicts a higher uptake of VR, a recent survey found that IT professionals believe the technology to be the most overhyped.