Tucked away on pages 417-422 of the 16th Volume of the 1995 Tourism Management book by Roger Cheong, are two articles relating to the 'threats' of Virtual Reality (VR) on tourism.
The first is about how tourists might travel with VR, and developers use it in the planning process, seeing VR as a logical progression in the use of technology in tourism. The second takes a more sceptical view of the capabilities of VR. Both, however, agree that its importance is likely to increase. Bearing in mind these articles were written 25 years ago, it's interesting to consider that maybe only now, in 2020, are we beginning to feel the wave (albeit virtual) starting to properly gather momentum.
BusinessWire thinks the compound annual growth rate of Augmented Reality (AR) will be over 40% in the next three years, with VR growing at nearly 34%. IDC is more bullish with a 71% growth prediction of both AR and VR. Then there are the market value predictions. Statista reckons we're looking at $209 billion by 2022, Zion thinks that AR alone will reach £133 billion by 2021, whereas Transparency Market Research is thinking the pie will be even bigger, at $547 billion by 2024. They predict the annual growth rate will be 92.5%. That's big. Personally, I'm more enamoured with the utility of AR/VR rather than the size. I think the impact on healthcare, education and travel will be outstanding - especially in the ability to simulate scenarios.
Recently I was invited to attend a breakfast meeting about sustainability and the conversation turned to the needed urgency (and the unfortunate resistance) with regards to climate change. Most people offered a perspective on how to encourage people to become more proactive and then I was asked to share my view. I said that if masses of people could have a deeply immersive virtual reality experience of what their (and their families) lives would look like in the coming years, with a rising sea level and heightened temperatures, then people could potentially feel more incentivised to act fast. My feeling is that both AR and VR can be used in really powerful ways to educate via experience, especially in contexts where people are less likely to find things relevant. By adding scenarios involving their town, home, family, job or hobbies, the relevance level increases exponentially. It is this immersion could help in making the global situation more real.
In my book Powered By Change I write about how we can transpose ideas and methods from any other industry onto our own. This transposition requires an open mind as we need to set aside any usual biases around what we think is relevant and gain deeper curiosity about things that fall outside our normal parameters.
Transposition is very powerful. You may notice it when companies take a concept like Airbnb (travel) and apply it to car-sharing (automotive). Or when companies use music (entertainment) as a form of therapy (healthcare). I believe transposition will be the key that unlocks the power of alternate realities.
The key takeaways are these:
1. Augmented and Virtual Reality is growing fast.
2. The real growth will come from finding the transposed value rather than concentrating just on the technology.
3. If you ask 10 people for predictions, you're likely to get 10 different answers :)
Sources and further reading: