The divide between the digital and physical worlds is quickly fading, heralding a new era of immersive digital experiences. Immersive-reality technologies use sensing technologies and spatial computing to help users “see the world differently” through mixed or augmented reality, or to “see a different world” through virtual reality.
These experiences will span the consumer, enterprise, and industrial worlds. As the next logical step following the invention of mobile phones and PCs, virtual and augmented reality will enable the creation of entirely new business models, while some companies will quickly see their own version of the “Kodak” moment. According to McKinsey, the world’s 2.7 billion deskless workers, representing ~80% of the global workforce, are concentrated in eight industries and present huge potential for scaling immersive-reality technology.
Venture capital investors provided about $4 billion in funding to AR/VR startups in 2021. This is ushering in the development of new applications for many industries, which is expected to enable +20% market growth per year, forming the foundation for a trillion-dollar market over the next 10-15 years. While adoption has been constrained by technological barriers such as the need for longer battery life, lighter-weight components, and better ergonomics, as well as a lack of maturity in the development process and supply chain, recent advancements are quickly relegating these challenges to the past.
The technology ecosystem required to support the metaverse is vast, involving many layers that have historically been underappreciated by investors. These layers include a broad spectrum of technologies, ranging from data storage and computing power to connectivity and networking infrastructure to computer vision and sensors.
COMPANIES INVOLVED IN AR / VR DEVELOPMENT & INFRASTRUCTURE
NVIDIA (ROBO & THNQ: NVDA), Dassault (ROBO & THNQ: DSY FP), and Autodesk (ROBO & THNQ: ADSK UK) are creating unique approaches to digital worlds. Product design is being re-imagined using real-world simulation.
Materialise (ROBO & HTEC: MTLS UW) and 3D Systems (ROBO & HTEC: DDD) are making headway in the development of virtual worlds that will be directly applied to production of real-world products. Key applications include additive manufacturing; 3D bioprinting of organs, tissues, and musculoskeletal parts for implants; and testing of new drugs.
Trimble (ROBO: TRMB) and Faro Technologies (ROBO: FARO) bring virtual and augmented reality to construction and manufacturing processes. Their solutions are already being used in manufacturing simulations by workers around the world.
Arista Networks (THNQ: ANET) and Pure Storage (THNQ: PSTG) are both leading players in the development of the massive cloud centers that will be required to run the metaverse. Storage of this infinitely expanding data requires scalable solutions that enable fast, secure networking in cloud data centers.