Tech Trends

Education, Gaming Drive Virtual Reality Gear

Virtual reality devices will grow by nearly 85 percent for the next five years, driven in large part by gaming and educational applications, according to a new report from ABI Research.

“The VR content ecosystem is opening up to include casual and traditional VR gaming, as well as education experiences,” said Sam Rosen, managing director and vice president at ABI Research, in a prepared statement. “360-degree video also saw notable investment from Facebook and YouTube, pointing to another promising VR growth opportunity. While content developers are still learning how consumers engage with mobile-reliant VR systems, VR in core gaming and augmented reality are on well-defined growth trajectories.”

The market research firm noted that as devices have proliferated, low-cost gear — such as Google Cardboard, of which there are currently some 5 million devices on the market as of January — and devices tied in with mobile phones — such as those announced by Samsung and LG — have started encroaching on what has traditionally been the domain of high-end systems designed for gamers.

“Smartphones are the perfect platform for the VR market, because they already have the power and technological functionality necessary to create a fun, in-depth simulated environment,” said Eric Abbruzzese, research analyst at ABI, also in a prepared statement. “As their capabilities continue to evolve, we anticipate high-end VR, which is currently exclusive to PC and game consoles, to expand to mobile-powered uses by 2020. Google Cardboard is just the beginning; in the years to come, independent growth across major markets, including mobile devices, wearables, gaming, advertising, and data, will all synergize and power the next stage of transformational growth in mobile VR.”

ABI said it expects the total number of VR units to hit 50 million by 2020.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director, education for 1105 Media's Public Sector Media Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal. A 22-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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