AR and VR to add £1.4 trillion to economy by 2030

03 December 2019 4 min. read

With virtual reality and augmented reality finally taking off as commercial technology following a decade of hype, the mediums could soon benefit the UK economy to the tune of £62.5 billion. The booming market could also boost the UK’s employment prospects, with the creation of 400,000 new jobs, according to a new report.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) look to be developing into the future of visual technology, with a number of increasingly optimistic forecasts anticipating a boom in sales and use over the coming years. The VR market first became a billion-dollar industry three years ago, thanks largely to a £233 million boom relating to video game sales in the innovative technology domain, while headset sales are predicted to approach 200 million units within the next few years.

However, it would be wrong to think of the meteoric rise of VR and AR as solely resulting from demand in the entertainment sector. Already spanning well beyond entertainment, VR and AR tests are being incorporated into the recruitment process by some of the world’s leading consulting firms, as well as by engineers to simulate a child’s perspective on urban environments, which can be taken into account during project planning.

AR and VR to add £1.5 trillion to economy by 2030

Following on from the dramatic rise of VR and AR technology, PwC has released the latest in a long line of reports anticipating big things from the sector. According to the Big Four firm’s researchers, AR and VR could add £1.4 trillion ($1.5 trillion) to the global economy by 2030, including a £62.5 billion boost to the UK, equating to a 2.4% jump in GDP.

According to the study, 2025 will prove to be something of a watershed moment for the technologies, in large part thanks to the popularity of AR. The researchers determined that AR will actually be the primary driver of the market’s growth, exploding from a value of £262.69 billion ($338.1 billion) in 2025 to £848.76 billion ($1,092.4 billion) in 2030 – following more modest growth over the coming five years. AR is only narrowly more lucrative than VR currently, but VR will struggle to keep pace with its relative, with its market being worth less than half of AR by 2030, at £350.02 ($450.5 billion).

The manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors are just some of the industrial environments in which the immersive technologies are being used for training and education. PwC believes the healthcare sector will provide a boost of £316 billion to global GDP by 2030 through utilising the new technologies. VR is already being used to give medical students greater access to operating theatres, where there are restrictions on the number of observers. VR and AR are also enabling consultants based in different locations to collaborate remotely and discuss upcoming surgical procedures.

AR and VR to add £1.5 trillion to economy by 2030

The use of VR and AR could also boost the ailing retail and consumer sector, providing a £183.9 billion boost to global GDP by 2030. Retailers will be able to create new customer experiences, from virtual fitting rooms for fashion stores to AR applications that let people test how furniture looks in their home before buying it.

PwC also estimates that the adoption of the technology will have a major impact on employment in different countries. Eight leading nations will command a large portion of these, with 10,756,729 new jobs between them, while 12,603,911 will be split between the rest of the world. The researchers forecast that while China (6,822,647) and the US (2,322,156) will gain the most jobs from this by some distance, Japan (533,155) and the UK (400,663) will also do well out of the VR and AR booms.

Jeremy Dalton, PwC UK’s Head of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, said of the report, “VR and AR have the potential to provide a significant boost to the UK economy. They will also improve the way organisations operate, make processes faster and more effective, and create incredible new experiences.”

However, the technology will need the full support of key stakeholders in order to fully prosper. “Government assistance through financial incentives and funding for research and development is required… And businesses will need to build a better understanding of the technology.”