Immersive technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality will become mainstream in business operations in coming years, with AR being seen as more relevant than VR, according to a report from the Capgemini Research Institute.
AR and VR are not new technologies but recent advances in computational power, storage, graphics processing and high-resolution displays have helped overcome the constraints that have hampered the widespread use of these technologies.
The study showed that 50% of enterprises currently not implementing AR and VR will start exploring immersive technologies within three years.
These include using AR to remotely access real-time help from experts on a wearable or handheld device, and using VR to train employees.
About 45% respondents feel the technolognies will become mainstream in their organisations within three years while 38% think it will take up to five years.
The research is based on a survey of more than 700 companies in the automotive, manufacturing and utilities sectors.
The report cited IDC estimates saying global spending on AR and VR is likely to reach $17.8 billion in 2018, an increase of 95% over the $9.1 billion estimate for 2017.
The report also said that organisations feel that while AR is more complex to implement, it is more beneficial than VR. In fact, 45% organisations are implementing AR compared with 36% which are implementing VR. Also, 66% organisations believe AR to be more applicable to them than VR, although the use of VR in applications such as collaborative product design can be highly impactful.
"This could reflect the fact that while AR can alter our day-to-day interactions with digital machines and systems, VR enhances individual immersive experience by isolating the user from the real world," the study said.
The study showed that US and China are leading the AR/VR implementation race, with over 50% of companies surveyed already using immersive technologies.
However, according to the report, lack of in-house expertise and insufficient back-end infrastructures are hindrance to growth of these technologies.
"To drive the highest business value from AR and VR, companies need a centralised governance structure, proofs of concept that are aligned with business strategy, and to be able to drive innovation and employee change management," said Lanny Cohen, chief innovation officer at Capgemini.