The Irish Government needs to undertake a detailed analysis of the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) industries in this country if it wishes to capture investment in these growing markets, according to one of the country’s top AR and VR experts. Alex Gibson, Assistant Head of the School of Marketing in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and one of the country’s leading scholars on these subjects cited the lack of data about the number of people working in AR or VR as evidence that there is no clear picture of how these sectors are performing in this country. There are also no official figures about the number of augmented or virtual reality companies operating in Ireland.
According to an Oireachtas PQ response provided by the Government, “AR/VR is a new disruptive technology impacting on many verticals and as a result, it is difficult to scope the numbers of companies involved and the corresponding employment levels albeit a significant area of opportunity for Ireland.”
This is despite the potential impact of these sectors being acknowledged by the Government saying, “Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) were identified as technologies that are critical to Ireland’s economic and social development out to 2035.” This was further outlined in another PQ which said, “The ICT priority areas have been broadened to reflect the changes in technology since 2012 and now includes Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (including Machine Learning), Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.”
The Government also recognises the substantial growth expected from the AR and VR sectors, saying, “Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is seen as a significant growing global market with worldwide revenues for the Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) market set to jump 100 per cent or more over the next four years. According to a new forecast by research firm IDC total spending on such products and services is estimated to be valued at $11.4 billion this year  and is expected to increase to nearly $215 billion by 2021, achieving a compound annual growth rate of 113.2 per cent along the way.”
A more detailed picture of the current AR and VR market in this country will be required if the Government is serious about bringing investment in these sectors to Ireland, according to Mr. Gibson who said, “Having a clear overview of the current state of the augmented reality and virtual reality markets in Ireland is essential if we wish to bring multinational investment to this country or if we are serious about supporting the domestic sector. The first question anyone considering Ireland as a corporate location will want to know is what does the current AR/VR picture look like in this country? They want to know if the infrastructure is in place if there are qualified personnel available, what the competition consists of and more.
“Yet not only is there no official figure from the Government on the number of people working in this sector, they also don’t have an estimate for the number of companies or businesses operating in these markets in Ireland. That is why a detailed analysis is required for the Irish industry. Not only will it benefit all those already involved, but it will also help to secure the future growth of Ireland’s augmented reality and virtual reality landscape.”
Mr. Gibson was speaking at the launch of ARVR Innovate, Ireland’s annual conference dedicated to augmented and virtual reality. This year’s event will be held on Thursday 10th May in the RDS Concert Hall, Dublin with more than 400 people expected to attend.
Among the high level speakers participating in this year’s event will be Alibaba’s Jian Gu, one of the company’s augmented reality leads; Dave Lorenzini, COO of youAR and previously of Keyhole (which became Google Earth); Philipp Nagele, CTO of Wikitude (the world’s leading augmented reality mobile platform); Jan Pfluger who heads up Audi’s AR and VR Center as well as Barry Downes of Suir Valley Ventures and Helen McBreen of Atlantic Bridge.
Now entering its 5th consecutive year, ARVR Innovate is one of the longest established conferences on this subject matter in Europe, with the first conference taking place in Dublin in 2014. This year’s event will also boast a number of special features, including a specific strand of presentations dedicated to ‘The Business of AR & VR’. The conference’s extensive exhibition area will also include a dedicated ‘Startup Zone’ with international and Irish startup companies being invited to showcase their work and a special ‘ARVR Innovate Startup 2018’ prize to be awarded.
ARVR Innovate is partnered with Wikitude, Grant Thornton, Invest NI, RTE, vStream, Audi, the Augmented Reality Enterprise Alliance (AREA), Immerse UK and the Augmented and Virtual Reality Association (AVRA), the CIS association of representatives of AR/VR companies.
Speaking about the conference, Mr. Gibson, Founder of ARVR Innovate said, “We are really excited by the line-up we have in place for this year’s ARVR Innovate. As the augmented and virtual reality sectors have grown, so has our conference and this year will be our biggest event yet.
“We are delighted to have so many global and Irish experts in AR and VR participating again this year, growing on our strong track record of attracting industry renowned speakers. That is why we have delegations coming to Dublin from as far away as South Korea, China and the US to this year’s event. There will certainly be something for anyone who is involved in augmented and virtual reality – or for anyone who would like to learn more about these exciting sectors which, as the Government acknowledges, are likely to be areas of significant growth in the years ahead,” Mr. Gibson concluded.
Tickets for ARVR Innovate cost €195 + VAT and can be purchased on the conference website – ARVRInnovate.com