The pandemic started with its epicenter in China in 2019 and has been continuously spreading by then to all over the world, so far 216 countries and territories have been affected with COVID-19, U.S. being on the top with cases reaching to about 4.38 million, followed by Brazil, India and then by many European countries such as Russia, Spain, Italy and others. The COVID-19 cases reaching to the big named countries with strong dominance in the global market which has adversely affected the economy globally.
The spread of Coronavirus has led to the global recession, many companies are being bound to take stringent actions of laying of their employees, small business are being shut, manufacturing facilities are being put on hold. There has been a disruption in supply chain of many industries due to restriction in logistics and closing of manufacturing facilities. In addition, the slowdown in economy has lowered the spending capability of individuals and people are saving money for emergencies.
Virtual reality can be defined as a technology that creates fully immersed simulated environment through the use of computer technology. Virtual reality provides an immersed 3D environment to the user by simulating various senses such as vision, touch hearing and even smell.
The virtual reality uses devices such as head-mounted displays, projectors and display walls for generating realistic visuals and sounds for providing the experience of real world in virtual environment. Augmented reality on other hand provides with the digital elements on a live view often by using camera on smartphone. The most common examples of augmented reality are the Snapchat lens and the game of Pokemon Go.
The pandemic has led to the growth of digital era, the users and industries have shifted to online sources and digital platforms for their daily operations. The augmented and virtual reality has thus been benefited by the increasing requirement of augmented and virtual reality in healthcare, e-commerce, education and other industries.
"Many organizations, from giants like Walmart to small companies, use virtual reality in the education and training of their employees, and VR is also very popular in schools in the educational context."
The industry expects the use of augmented and virtual reality to become more prominent and common after the pandemic. “One is the remote-assistance scenario. Another is guided workflow, where you see work instructions in AR in front of you in a hands-free environment. Another is retraining, or re-skilling the workforce.”
The behavior of the individuals have certainly changed in the pandemic, people are now more concerned towards their health. The government is also working on research and development to develop vaccine and avoid any further pandemic as such. The government is using augmented and virtual reality for the known disasters which can help in reducing the effects of the disaster.
The pandemic has boosted the digital transformation of industries, companies are focusing more on digital platform to interact with their clients and customers. People working from home are also more reliable on digital sources. In regards to this the tech giants of augmented and virtual reality need to cater the evolving market. The e-commerce market is increasing rapidly in this pandemic and augmented reality can be taken advantage of by creating an artificial visual of the clothes that people like or superimpose the image of furniture on the place it needs to be place.
The virtual reality can also capture various office environments as the conferences can take place on virtual reality platform, various brands and product launches can be conducted through it. The education and healthcare sector is also to be targeted as they are the industry getting high digital transformation in this pandemic.
The pandemic has adversely affected the sales of the companies as the demand has reduced due to several factors such as slowdown of economy. People are saving their money in order to use it for emergencies and companies have lowered their investments. Companies are using their capital to pay rent, mortgages and salaries and are not investing heavily on new projects.
However, the digital transformation of various industries and the people spending more time on digital screen is gradually increasing the scope of growth for the market. The growth has highly increased in healthcare sector as the demand for skilled doctors and for research increases. The virtual reality is highly beneficial for the healthcare sector to help in extensive training. The education sector is another sector which is using virtual reality for training purposes increasing the growth of market in pandemic.
The healthcare industry is moving towards telehealth with companies such as XRHealth USA Inc. expanding its VR telehealth platform by raising USD 7 million in April, 2020. Also, the CEO of the company stated that, "Before COVID, we had two lines of business, basically: VR in the hospital, where we sold our technology through the hospital [or] healthcare facility; and... we launched our VR telehealth clinic March 1," "Now, two-and-a-half months in, we've basically stopped all the business activity selling our VR technology. We're not doing that anymore. All we are doing is telehealth VR. We already have more than 500 clinicians trained to be VR telehealth specialists and we have patients enrolling on a daily basis." The companies are increasing their focus on the health industry due to the rising concern of individuals towards their health.
The supply chain was adversely affected in the initial phase of the pandemic as lockdown prevailed in many regions globally, government had limited the workers. However, companies are making their operation work according to the government regulations by making limited workers work in different shifts. The companies are doing its best to meet the increasing demand.
However, companies such as Sony have faced adverse effects in its distribution, sales, development and production. The companies Game & Network Services (“G&NS”) segment have faced issues in production of hardware because of the problem in the logistics of its components. Such major issues have led to the disruption in supply chain during the pandemic.
As the COVID-19 prevails the initial period saw a disruption in both supply and demand of the virtual reality. Most of the manufacturing facilities were closed bringing down the production of AR/VR device manufacturing companies. However, as the market countries are getting digitally transformed and people are being more accustomed to the digital sources the market seems to be growing. Healthcare and education sector will act as major boosting factor for the growth of the market in this pandemic.
With most of the education institutions closed for time being the augmented reality can provide enhanced education capabilities to the students by using devices such as HoloLens and bringing the real life examples on digital platform such as smartphones. Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) is using HoloAnatomy to display the human body on 3D for better understanding.
The digital transformation of the companies during the pandemic will highly utilize the benefits offered by augmented and virtual reality technology. Companies are even using it to avoid physical contact by having meeting based on augmented or virtual reality solutions.
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