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What could drive augmented reality in the U.S.? Apparently, social media platform offerings like Snaphat Lenses and Facebook Stories, according to eMarketer’s premier forecast for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

The forecast posits that 40 million people in the U.S. will engage with some form of AR at least monthly in 2017, a boost of 30.2 percent over 2016. By the end of 2019, AR users could number 54.4 million or more, accounting for 16.4 percent of the internet-using population.

“Users of Snapchat Lenses comprise the vast majority of our AR estimates,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Chris Bendtsen. “Snapchat growth will continue to contribute to AR users in the future, but in the next several years eMarketer also expects Facebook Stories to be a significant growth driver of AR usage, since it is now widely available to Facebook’s user base.”

VR usage, on the other hand, will be driven by 360-degree videos on social networks. Due to slower adoption, VR will not reach mass adoption in the foreseeable future, notes the forecast. But 22.4 million people in the U.S. will engage with a form of VR at least monthly this year, up 109.5 percent over 2016.

What will drive VR in the U.S.? Gaming, most likely, which is also spurring the growth of VR headset usage. In 2017, 9.6 million people in the country will use a headset to experience VR monthly, up 98.7 percent over last year.


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