Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) have the potential to add £1.4 trillion to the global economy by 2030, according to a new report from PwC, with several sectors expected to enjoy significant gains.
➨ The immersive technologies could significantly build on their current contribution to global GDP of £41.9 billion
➨ Finland, Germany and the UK are forecast to see the biggest increases in percentage terms of GDP by 2030
➨ Healthcare will provide a boost of £316 billion to global GDP by 2030 through the use of VR and AR
The professional services firm predicted in its new report on VR and AR, Seeing is Believing, that the immersive technologies could significantly build on their current contribution to global GDP of £41.9 billion.
On a country by country basis, the US will see a boost of £484.2 billion to its economy by 2030 as a result of VR and AR, representing a 2.83% increase in GDP.
The major Asian economies of China (£165.3 billion) and Japan (£129.1 billion) will see the next biggest boost, representing 2.09% and 2% increases in GDP, respectively.
The European economies of Finland (£7 billion), Germany (£93.4 billion) and the UK (£62.5 billion) are forecast to see the biggest increases in percentage terms of GDP by 2030, with contributions of 2.64%, 2.46%, and 2.44%, respectively.
Out of the two technologies, PwC reported that AR will continue to provide the biggest benefits to global GDP through to 2030, accounting for £985 billion of the £1.4 trillion overall.
Breaking down the benefits by sector, healthcare will provide a boost of £316 billion to global GDP by 2030 through the use VR and AR.
VR is already being deployed to give medical students greater access to operating theatres and enable consultants based in different locations to collaborate remotely and discuss upcoming surgical procedures.
Immersive technology is opening up new ways to improve the efficiency, productivity and accuracy of employees and processes, according to PwC, and will provide a £248 billion boost to global GDP by 2030.
Engineers and technicians in particular can be fed information such as repair diagrams in real-time using an AR interface, enabling them to quickly identify problems and conduct repairs and maintenance.
In the logistics sector, meanwhile, smart glasses can display picking information for the worker, highlighting location and displaying product details and packing instructions.
The use of VR and AR in development and training will provide a £265.2 billion boost to global GDP by 2030, PwC said. One way in which this will be possible is that it will provide a way to train employees where it is not always practical, or safe, to do so in the real world.
The use of VR and AR in the retail and consumer sector will provide a £183.9 billion boost to global GDP by 2030, with virtual fitting rooms for fashion stores and AR applications that let people test how furniture would look in their home before they buy already here.
Finally, product and service development will provide a £324.1 billion boost to global GDP by 2030 through VR and AR. They will allow organisations to collaborate and work together in virtual environments, saving time and money, according to PwC.
“While many organisations might think VR and AR offer no major benefit to their business, our research has shown that’s not the case,” said Jeremy Dalton, head of VR and AR at PwC UK. “Now is the time for them to think about how these technologies can improve their performance or they risk being left behind.”
He continued: “Organisations need to look beyond the software development stage and focus on designing the solution to solve a specific business issue—VR and AR can be used to speed up processes, improve safety, reduce costs or open up new revenue streams.”
Dalton added a note of caution, pointing out that immersive technology still has a way to go before businesses and consumers are entirely comfortable with it.
He said: “The uptake and positive feedback of a VR or AR solution will be largely dependent on how comfortable and intuitive it is to use, so creating a seamless experience is crucial. Start small with a pilot programme to see the technology in action. Follow up by gathering feedback to direct the next step, which could be further investment or a pivot in a different direction, or a completely different path. There is no failure in being better informed.”