Latest signs of progress in computational power, storage, graphics processing, and high-resolution displays have paved the way for immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), which are more and more used in industrial organisations.

About 46% of automotive, manufacturing and utility companies expect AR and VR to be mainstream within the next three years, while 38% believes their large-scale implementation will happen in three to five years. According to recent Capgemini research, results of AR or VR projects exceeded expectations in about 82% of businesses that already use these technologies.

Asset maintenance and technical support, product design and line production are the most frequent use cases. Immersive solutions are particularly effective to allow staff access technical resources (31% of surveyed companies), collaborate with remote experts (30%), visualise specific components during production or assembly steps (30%), improve production workflows (29%). Smarter organisations have already integrated AR and VR in product simulation and testing processes (27%), advanced engineering (26%), and interesting training and education pilot projects are on the way.

Industry analysts forecast global spending on AR and VR to reach $17.8 billion in 2018, increasing nearly 95% over the $9.1 billion of 2017. However, the two technologies will grow at a different pace in manufacturing: while VR is mostly leveraged for single, immersive user experiences, AR represents an effective connection between the real and digital world, thus supporting a broader range of industrial applications. US and China are the fastest growing countries when considering AR and VR investments, but Europe is running after with a lot of innovation coming from Germany, France, UK and the Nordics.

Should we expect immersive technologies to hit our organisations in the near future, and impact business and IT operations? We’d better be prepared for this.