Spatial computing promises to transform the way people interact with their devices as computing goes truly 3D, with early signs of change already underway. While Apple's upcoming Vision Pro is bringing new excitement to this space, gaming-focused VR (Virtual Reality) headsets from companies including Meta, Sony, and Pico have sold in the millions. AR (Augmented Reality) glasses from Vuzix, Microsoft, and more have also found a valuable place in the industry. Display systems are make-or-break here, and for these devices to march towards uniquity, substantial development is required in this area.
IDTechEx's latest report, "Displays for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality 2024-2034: Forecasts, Technologies, Markets", untangles the web of panel technologies that form the heart of these head-mounted display (HMD) systems. It explores the industry's most-hyped technologies, including micro-LED, OLED-on-silicon (also known as micro-OLED), and laser beam scanning, while paying careful attention to its current workhorses, such as LCDs and LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon). Seven key panel technologies are analyzed in detail, from their technical backgrounds to supply chain players. Benchmarking pits these display types against each other and assesses their suitability for different XR (eXtended Reality) devices. Granular 10-year forecasts explain how the market is predicted to evolve, with a CAGR of 11% towards a market value of US$4.6 billion in 2034 expected.
Meeting Display Requirements in XR Offers Tough Challenges
Display panel technologies in AR. Source: IDTechEx
Displays are a key limiting technology for AR, alongside the optics they are seen through, which are typically very inefficient. Displays, therefore, need to be very bright, particularly when headsets are intended for outdoor use, but also power-efficient, high pixel-density, compact, and acceptably priced all in one package. The field of view (FoV - the amount of the wearer's vision covered by virtual content) affects display requirements.
Wide FoV devices, which typically are capable of MR (Mixed Reality - where overlaid virtual content interacts with real objects), need to focus most strongly on image quality, with brightness and color rendition being particularly important. Things may look easier for narrow FoV (<30°) devices since frequently only basic text and notification content need to be displayed, and full color may not even be required, but this fails to consider how lightweight and compact the display system must be to allow these devices to be worn for long periods. Minimizing power consumption is potentially even more important for this since the alternate choice is a bulky battery or an unusably short battery life.
In VR headsets, upgraded high-resolution, high-contrast display systems can give a strong competitive edge and provide more immersive experiences. Here, the rise of passthrough MR, where cameras pass a view of the real world to the wearer, is upping the importance of shrinking display systems down so that the cameras may be placed closer to the position of the eyes, as well as making headsets more compact.
With all the technological challenges in place, it is no wonder that a huge range of display technologies are finding use in AR and VR headsets, as outlined in the graphic. IDTechEx forecasts these to be the key technologies serving the XR display market for the next decade and predicts the adoption of each panel type in VR, narrow FoV AR, and wide FoV AR devices. In the further future, XR display technologies may evolve to solve the vergence-accommodation conflict (the mismatch between perceived and focal distance for objects in stereoscopic display systems): IDTechEx's report also outlines progress toward "true 3D" displays to solve this issue.
What Does the IDTechEx Report Offer?
It is abundantly clear that this market has substantial opportunity, but it comes with a range of pitfalls for its players. IDTechEx has been covering the VR, AR, and MR industries since 2015, and this report follows from its existing titles "Optics for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality 2022-2032: Technologies, Players and Markets", "Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Headsets 2023-2033: Technologies, Players, and Markets" and "Micro-LED Displays 2021-2031: Technology, Commercialization, Opportunity, Market and Players", further deepening its comprehensive coverage of the fast-evolving sector. "Displays for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality 2024-2034: Forecasts, Technologies, Markets" provides critical market intelligence to help your business navigate this industry as it grows. This includes:
This report provides critical market intelligence about the diverse and fast-changing XR display industry. This includes:
Technology Trends & Player Analysis
- An introduction to the augmented, mixed and virtual reality (AR, MR and VR) headset market, including analysis of key trends, expected market entrance from major players, and assessment of the competitive landscape.
- Introduction to the display requirements of XR devices, including the optical systems that partner with displays.
- For seven distinct display panel technologies, technological background, expected innovations, analysis of important players, an overview of the supply chain ecosystem, assessment of fitness for VR, and narrow/wide field of view (FoV) AR devices.
- Analysis of display backplanes and driving technologies, "true 3D" (holographic and light field) displays, and competitor technologies.
- 27 company profiles included, including interviews.
- Updates from conferences in 2023, including SID Display Week, Laval Virtual, and CES.
Market Forecasts & Analysis
Ten-year granular market forecasts for the following, including basis in historical data and narratives:
- Overall headset market (VR including MR-capable devices, AR including MR-capable devices).
- Displays by panel technology (e.g., OLED-on-silicon, LCD, DLP, etc.). AR devices are divided into narrow vs. wide field of view.
Benchmarking of the above technologies on 13 commercial and technological factors, with quantitative application fitness assessment.
Analysis and technical discussion of the potential winning technologies within these areas.
To find out more about the brand new IDTechEx report "Displays for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality 2024-2034", including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/ARVRDisplays.
Upcoming Free-to-Attend Webinar
Seeing Is Believing: Exploring the Future of XR Display Technology
Sam Dale, author of this article and the new IDTechEx report, will be presenting a free-to-attend webinar on the topic on Thursday 21 September 2023 - Seeing Is Believing: Exploring the Future of XR Display Technology.
This webinar will cover the following:
- An introduction to how XR device types affect display requirements
- Discussion of recent innovations in the XR display industry and their potential impacts on the future of XR devices
- The bottlenecks and technology gaps holding back XR display development, with potential solutions identified
- A roadmap for the development of the industry, with key player technologies highlighted
Click here to find out more and register your place on one of our three sessions.