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In August, Thane-based AjnaLens launched enterprise-grade augmented reality (AR) glasses with a software suite. They can be used by enterprises for training, with step-by-step guidance for employees through holographic images.

Three months later, Carzso, a virtual showroom for pre-owned cars, said it will offer 360-degree views of its virtual car to customers.

Last year, Reliance Jio showcased its mixed reality (MR) glasses called Jio Glass, which can be used to create 3D virtual classrooms with holographic images. Jio is working to create more applications for the platform that can be used in other industries too.

These examples may lead to the assumption that augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) wearables are commonplace in emerging markets such as India. But that’s not the case. Their adoption is limited to a few industries such as automotive, healthcare, manufacturing and defence.

The enterprise segment accounted for 72% of the AR/VR market in 2020, according to a Research and Markets report in September. Interest in the consumer segment, too, has been limited.

“Helping end-users in enterprise for remote working and training are some of the use cases for AR/VR in the enterprise. It has also seen adoption in automotive, oil & gas, aviation, logistics and healthcare. In the consumer segment, gaming is emerging as a big use case. But the requirement of the headset, its cost and limited titles are some limitations. Even if you buy a device, there are a limited set of games," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

But this scenario may soon change with many believing that the hype around the metaverse and the important role that AR/AR will play in it will provide a massive push to the technology. OEMs would try to cash in on the hype by launching more products in the AR/VR space.

“The metaverse and its ability to enable shared experiences across devices that bridge the physical and digital worlds will help to drive this evolution, providing the platform for companies and creators to build content that inspires their users," said Greg Sullivan, director, mixed reality, at Microsoft.

Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst at techARC, agrees that metaverse platforms are generating a lot of interest. “Facebook is just one of the players. There are many others that are working on metaverse projects," he added.

According to Kawoosa, next year doesn’t look great for smartphones or even smart TVs. Other categories have also been exhausted during covid-19. OEMs would want to introduce new product categories that can see some adoption. This will push up the adoption of AR/VR, he added.

“By classification, VR/AR headsets are wearables. However, their sales have been negligible. They have never crossed half a million in India. Next year, we can expect it to be somewhere between half a million and a million, which is a big growth for this segment," said Kawoosa.

The total size of the AR/VR industry in India in 2020 was $1.83 billion and it is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 38.29% by 2027, as per Research and Markets. The AR/VR market can be classified into head-mounted displays, handheld device applications, smart glasses and head-up displays.

“The mixed reality space has been evolving over a number of years and we believe that it will continue to do so as headsets increasingly become more immersive, more affordable and available in more socially acceptable form factors," said Sullivan.

Gupta is not expecting a dramatic shift in their adoption in 2022. However, he said that there is a lot of potential with these technologies to enable virtual workplaces and other virtual environments.

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