When 'Virtual' becomes more real

The augmented and virtual reality market in the MEA region is booming
Augmented Reality - contextual information on mobile devices, projections, or wearables - and Virtual Reality which provides a fully-immersive digital environment, will be adopted across industries by 2025, as predicted by Frost & Sullivan.
Augmented Reality - contextual information on mobile devices, projections, or wearables - and Virtual Reality which provides a fully-immersive digital environment, will be adopted across industries by 2025, as predicted by Frost & Sullivan.

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The next 10 years of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology development are set to redefine the future of both business and consumer processes and interactions in the GCC region, according to new research conducted by Frost & Sullivan in collaboration with GITEX Technology Week 2016. GCC organisations are leveraging the new technology to enhance end-user experiences.

According to the new Worldwide Semiannual Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide from the International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion in 2020. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 181.3% over the 2015-2020 forecast period.  The guide further estimates that the Middle East and Africa (MEA) augmented and virtual reality market will grow strongly over the next five years, posting annual growth rates of more than 100% across the 2016–2020 period.

“The concept of augmented and virtual reality is still relatively new for both vendors and consumers alike,” says Saad Elkhadem, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “However, the global success of Pokémon Go has brought the concept to a much broader audience. And with industry powerhouses such as Microsoft, Samsung, Google, Sony, and Facebook pushing the technology to the masses, end-user awareness and familiarity is only going to grow.” He further stressed that the main challenge is not just getting the technology into the hands of the masses, but even more important is the need to provide consumers with compelling content that proves this is a viable technology capable of adding meaningful value to their lives.

In the GCC, organisations no longer need to imagine the impact of AR and VR – they are already deploying the technology in fascinating new ways. Programmes across industries in the GCC are eager to adopt AR and VR technologies to streamline processes. The new report from Frost & Sullivan highlights a number of unique AR and VR initiatives and projects in the region.

Public agencies have been quick on the uptake of AR and VR technology in the GCC, Frost & Sullivan says, highlighting a number of cutting-edge initiatives in the region. Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme, the agency that provides Emirati housing, has launched the My Virtual Home App, which uses AR to allow users to virtually tour readymade 3D housing models. The Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA) has launched Wojhati, a trip planning mobile app with GPS to help users plan, track, and share their mass transit routes. The RTA is also partnering with the Dubai Future Foundation for 25 per cent of Dubai’s road trips by driverless vehicles by 2030.

Also at GITEX this year, Qatar’s Codea will share best practices in developing the AR shopping app Real Aug Shoppie, which provides personalised information and coupons when products are scanned.

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