NEW YORK—Several of the big names in technology—led by Facebook, now Meta—are stepping up their interest and investments in both augmented and virtual reality devices. Other big tech firms moving in this direction are Apple, Snapchat, Samsung and Microsoft. All of these companies have—or soon will have—AR or VR devices and developer tools in development, according to eMarketer.

“It’s too early to know whether the metaverse is more than hype, but it’s a potent idea that’s already driving investments,” eMarketer noted in a recent post. “Facebook, now Meta, has done the most to push the idea into the mainstream and is pouring vast resources into augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices and operating systems for both, but they’re not alone.”

In addition, many game and design platforms such as Roblox, Nvidia, Unity and Epic are investing in the metaverse, also.

“We’re at the beginning of a surge in AR and VR devices,” the eMarketer report stated. AR shipments will jump from 1 million in 2021 to 21 million in 2025, and VR shipments from 8 million to 29 million, according to the International Data Corp.

The first generation of these devices goes back years, but the influx of research dollars, better developer tools and sensors, and faster radio technologies, such as 5G networks, will propel the development of products that consumers will buy.

AR is set to make a bigger near-term splash than VR. Although lightweight and fully functional AR smart glasses are still a few years away, they’re coming as a result of today’s investments by Big Tech, according to eMarketer.

Despite the current visions of a metaverse based on VR, it’s still unclear whether consumers will embrace VR headsets en masse.
The bar for smart glasses and mobile AR seems lower, eMarketer said.