Worldwide shipments of virtual reality (VR) hardware will rise dramatically in 2016, with total volumes reaching 9.6 million units, according to International Data Corp. (IDC).

The market should generate hardware revenues of about $2.3 billion in 2016, the firm says. While VR will drive nearly all of the hardware volume in 2016, augmented reality (AR) hardware is forecast to ramp up over the next few years. The combined device markets will see hardware shipments surge past 110 million units in 2020, it says.

IDC has identified three major device categories across the AR and VR markets, including screenless viewers that use the screen of specific smartphones to drive an AR/VR experience; tethered head-mounted displays (HMD) that use an existing compute device such as a PC to drive a head-worn display; and standalone head-mounted displays that integrate processing within the head-worn display itself.

"In 2016, the first major VR tethered HMDs from Oculus, HTC, and Sony should drive combined shipments of over 2 million units," said Tom Mainelli, vice president for devices and displays at IDC. "When you combine this with robust shipments of screenless viewers from Samsung and other vendors launching later this year, you start to see the beginning of a reasonable installed base for content creators to target."

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