It’s too early to know whether the metaverse is more than hype, but it’s a potent idea that’s already driving investments. 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. Apple, Snapchat, Samsung, and Microsoft all have—or soon will have—AR or VR devices and developer tools in development. Many game and design platforms such as Roblox, Nvidia, Unity, and Epic are also investing in the metaverse.
We’re at the beginning of a surge in AR and VR devices. 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 Corporation. 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.