In 2021, XR shipments crossed the 10-million mark for the first time, showing 60% growth compared to the previous year. Although the growth has slowed down this year due to the lack of a new mass-level device, it is expected to accelerate next year and take the annual shipments to about 48 million in 2025. Recently, Meta unveiled its new product, the Quest Pro. Unlike the previous device, which only allows hand tracking, the Quest Pro features eye and face tracking. Through Quest Pro, Meta is trying to consolidate its leadership position in the consumer sector and expand its market share in the enterprise sector.
However, the competition is expected to intensify with the expected release of Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 and Apple’s first XR headset next year. As major OEMs enter the market in earnest, attention is being paid to what specifications they will release. This blog looks into some of the key technologies that will form the XR market’s focus going forward.
1. Wider FOV for immersion enlargement
Field of view (FOV) is the range of viewing. It is one of the most important features of XR devices. In theory, the wider the FOV, the better. But the screen size is limited. So, if the FOV is increased without taking into account the screen size, the screen will look crumpled.
Ideal displays for XR devices should have a FOV larger than 160° to cover the FOV of the human visual system. In addition, monocular focus cues are needed to recognize the interaction between virtual content and real-world environments, just as the human eye recognizes objects with central and peripheral vision.
However, the average FOV is about 89° for existing XR devices, 47° for AR, and 112° for XR. This is because the FOV was reduced to provide a clearer image at a limited resolution.
Source: Radiant Vision Systems
2. ToF technology for gesture tracking
AR devices will need to come with a variety and combination of control options to be truly hands-free. These will range from gesture control and eye tracking to voice control.
Gesture control can be done through the application of multiple 3D sensing modules to detect hand movements and nearby objects via spatial detection. Among the 3D sensing modules, ToF (time of flight) technology is expected to be mainly used. The ToF technology consists of iToF (indirect time-of-flight) and dToF (direct time-of-flight). iToF is advantageous for short-range measurements and has excellent security, so it is used for smartphone facial recognition. On the other hand, dToF-based solutions support a wider measurement distance than iToF. Therefore, both solutions are expected to be adopted for XR devices.
Source: SK Hynix
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is essential for understanding the surrounding environment and human beings to provide an optimized experience for each user. When AI and AR are combined, it becomes possible to receive optimized information for each user. Furthermore, if AI technology for detecting and recognizing a user’s emotions is applied to an XR device, facial and gesture recognition limitations can be supplemented. In other words, it collects objective emotional information such as a person’s face, voice, body movement, and bio-signals with sensors, and obtains abstract emotional information based on AI to automatically recognize people and provide a real-time personalized environment even if they do not express their emotions under a given environmental condition. This will facilitate communication with users in a virtual space and enrich the XR usage environment by being used in various ways, such as evaluating and improving products and services, and identifying and responding to safety-related conditions.
Just as rapid technology innovation led to smartphone market growth in its early stages, XR devices are expected to show similar trends. Therefore, technological development is also an important factor in market growth. Even as major smartphone OEMs such as Apple and Samsung apply for related patents, OEMs that have the upper hand in technology competition are expected to survive in the market.