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IDTechEx Forecasts The Spatial Computing Optics Market To Exceed US$5B By 2034

By PR Newswire

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BOSTON, Nov. 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- AR and VR (augmented and virtual reality) headsets are well on their way to establishing themselves as the next important category of computing devices. Mixed reality-capable VR headsets like Meta's Quest 3 and the upcoming Apple Vision Pro are demonstrating the true power of spatial computing. VR headsets for home gaming have sold by the million, while AR glasses have carved out a place in the industry. Optics is a key hurdle to overcome to unlock a path to true ubiquity for these XR (eXtended Reality) devices.

AR headsets are see-through to the real world and require optical combiners to overlay virtual information on top of the real world: these specialized optics required by AR headsets have so far proved to be a stumbling block for the industry. An industry of specialized, often fabless, optics firms has sprung up to solve this problem, offering a diverse range of technologies to headset manufacturers that are just as active in this space.

VR headsets are optically closed off from the real world, requiring lenses to magnify their displays and focus them at a comfortable distance for the user. A transition to more compact pancake lens architectures is well underway in 2023, but these still leave unsolved problems that prevent full immersion in VR. Offering solutions to the vergence-accommodation conflict is the next battleground here, with millions in R&D dollars going into finding solutions.

IDTechEx's new report, "Optics for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality 2024-2034: Technologies, Players and Markets", outlines the path of innovation that is expected to lead to the XR optics industry's growth at a CAGR of 23% from 2024 to 2034. It covers optical combiners and waveguides for AR and lenses for VR, with additional focus placed on prescription correction and encapsulation for waveguides and the specialized optical materials industry supporting these technologies. Key themes across all technologies, including the maximization of field of view and eyebox, solving the vergence-accommodation conflict, and efforts to improve color rendition are discussed and compared. The activities of headset firms and ecosystem enablers, the demands of end users and other wider market forces are highlighted. The technologies likely to dominate the market are identified with extensive justification, providing a clear sense of future industry development.

Thirteen distinct classes of XR optical technology are analyzed in detail, including surface relief grating diffractive waveguides, holographic waveguides, reflective waveguides, birdbath combiners, Fresnel lenses, pancake lenses and geometric phase lens arrays. This analysis includes:

  • In-depth technological and market discussion, tracking innovations, trends and players. Includes market case studies.
  • Benchmarking on 12 technological and commercial factors.
  • 10-year forecasts for adoption, units sold and revenue for each technology in VR and narrow/wide FoV AR.

Additionally, overall forecasts from 2024-2034 for the VR and AR headset industries that form the market for these display technologies are provided, alongside historical data. Furthermore, high-level demand forecasts for specialized optical materials to serve this market are provided, with key potential opportunities provided. Conclusions on the evolving future of the XR optics market are identified.

This report forms part of IDTechEx's wider XR portfolio, including "Displays for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality 2024-2034: Forecasts, Technologies, Markets" and "Micro-LED Displays 2024-2034: Technology, Commercialization, Opportunity, Market and Players". It updates the already-comprehensive 2022 edition of the report with even deeper market insight into this rapidly changing industry, including a substantial improvement to benchmarking methodology, analysis of the rapid rise of pancake lenses in VR, and expanded discussion of waveguide manufacturing processes and prescription correction in AR.

IDTechEx's methodology involved extensive primary and secondary research with a key focus on interviewing executives and engineers within the display and wider XR ecosystems, in addition to attendance of major conferences, including CES, SID Display Week, Laval Virtual and AWE Europe. It provides 29 company profiles as well as further case studies of important developments in the XR optics world.

Unique position and experience behind this report

IDTechEx has been covering the VR, AR and MR industry since 2015, staying close to the technical and market developments, interviewing key players worldwide, attending numerous conferences and delivering multiple consulting projects. IDTechEx's long history within this area has provided it with a unique ability to curate a network within this space, bolstering its analysis in this report.

The IDTechEx report assesses the VR, AR and MR optics market in detail, evaluating the different constituent technologies, potential adoption barriers, and the difficulties of competing in this crowded space. IDTechEx also develop granular 10-year market forecasts and assessments of the potential for success of the technologies covered, as well as supporting high-level material demands. This analysis includes:

Technology trends & player analysis

-  An introduction to the VR, AR and MR headset market, including analysis of key trends, expected market entrance from major players and assessment of the competitive landscape.

-  Introduction to the optical requirements of XR devices, including the differences between categories of device.

-  For thirteen distinct optical combiner and lens technologies, technological background, expected innovations, analysis of important players, overview of the ecosystem. Discussion of further technologies is also included.

-  29 company profiles included, including interviews.

-  Updates from conferences in 2023, including AWE Europe, SID Display Week, Laval Virtual and CES.

Market Forecasts & Analysis

-  10-year granular market volume and revenue forecasts for the following, including basis in historical data and narratives:

  • Overall headset market (VR including MR-capable devices, AR including MR-capable devices).
  • Combiners for AR, split into 9 classes of technology. AR devices are divided into narrow vs. wide field of view.
  •  Lenses for VR, split into 4 different technologies.

-  10-year forecast of high-level material demands for specialized optical materials, with key opportunities identified.

Benchmarking of the above optics technologies on 12 commercial and technological factors, with quantitative application fitness assessment for narrow and wide FoV AR devices, and VR headsets.

To find out more about the new IDTechEx report "Optics for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality 2024-2034: Technologies, Players and Markets", including downloadable sample pages, please visit For the full portfolio of research available from IDTechEx please visit

IDTechEx offers further expert-led data, analysis and insights through bespoke subscription services - find out more at

Upcoming free-to-attend webinar
A Vision of the Future of Optics for AR and VR

Sam Dale, Senior Technology Analyst at IDTechEx and author of this article, will be presenting a free-to-attend webinar on the topic on Tuesday 5 December 2023 - A Vision of the Future of Optics for AR and VR.

This webinar will cover the following:

  • Overview of how the changing XR device market has driven new requirements for XR optics
  • Outlook for the development of AR waveguide combiner industry, with key innovations highlighted
  • Analysis of the rapid rise of pancake lenses in VR and identification of the technologies that may replace them
  • Overview of the latest ten-year market forecasts for XR optics, predicting technological winners and the suitability of optics types for different segments of the XR device market

Click here to register your place on one of the three sessions available.

About IDTechEx

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its Research, Subscription and Consultancy products, helping you profit from emerging technologies. For more information, contact or visit

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Lucy Rogers
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+44(0)1223 812300

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First published on Thu, Nov 30, 2023

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