If talk of augmented and virtual reality brings to mind comically unfashionable goggles, a dearth of useful applications, and headache-inducing graphics, we’d understand. Until two or three years ago, we thought the same—they were technologies of the future and always would be. But we’ve come full circle in our thinking and so should you.
Consider this: Consulting firm Deloitte Global, as part of its 2016 outlook, forecasts that this year will be VR’s first billion-dollar year. Looking ahead, Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini predicts that AR and VR could easily generate up to $80 billion in revenue, including hardware and software, by 2025. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has a $2 billion bet on virtual reality by way of his 2014 Oculus acquisition. And Magic Leap, an augmented reality startup affiliated with Google, recently raised money at a lofty $4.5 billion valuation.
And helping to lead the way? Game developers and the military aside, we’re increasingly seeing hospital clinicians and medical researchers at the forefront of this innovation wave. They’ve been particularly quick to imagine how augmented and virtual reality technologies could potentially reshape the patient experience, improve clinical outcomes, deliver innovative new therapies, and better train healthcare professionals.