The technologies of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) allow to represent, through logical steps, what is the digital reproduction of a real scenario is to which we want to apply a transformation that will make it possible for the users to have a totally synthetic (artificial) and immersive experience of the scenario represented.

The technologies can be seen as tools that allow to seamlessly pass from Real Reality to Virtual Reality in a sort of "continuum" that is often referred to as extended reality (XR). At one end of this continuum there is the Real Reality, at the other end there is the (totally) Virtual Reality. In between there are different levels of "blended" solutions ranging from Augmented Reality alone, which "adds" digital information superimposed on real reality in the overlay, till to Virtual Reality, passing from infinite possible combinations of Mixed Reality (Mixed Reality) where the Real, the Augmented and the Virtual combine on several levels.

To estimate the economic impact of AR/VR/MR technologies on world GDP and the importance of this type of technology in the world of commerce, it is possible to monitor the sales trend of hardware and software necessary for applications that involve immersive solutions. In 2020, the economic impact of virtual reality and augmented reality reached a figure that is around 29.5 billion dollars (although the forecasts for 2017 were even higher). To understand the trend line, it is sufficient to consider that, in the end of 2017, the economic value of the VR software and hardware units sold by Sony, Oculus, HTC and other manufacturers was equal to 2.4 billion dollars, while in the end of 2016 it had been 1.7 billion dollars.

According to a study by ANIWAA, reported in a Know Techie article (VR and AR Market Forecast and Future Projections), on the trend of the VR market in recent years, amazing growth data has emerged being of absolute interest for those who work in the immersive technology sector along with all those professionals who more or less directly operate in the field of communication, as well as for every company and business reality.

The report shows that, for 2018, sales of virtual reality devices were estimated at 8.9 million devices (a 7% increase compared to 2017) and, in the same vein, IDC reported similar data (Worldwide Augmented and Virtual Reality Hardware Forecast, 2021–2025: CY 1Q21 ( ).

In the 2018 report, a greater attention was also expected towards the Augmented Reality market in 2019, predicting an increase in sales of hardware and software devices for AR. And indeed, so it was with the market selling approximately 2 million AR units. According to the same study, by 2020, one in 3 people would have had access to a VR/AR experience.

The projections for 2021 speak of an effective numerical confirmation of this revolutionary change in approach to immersive technology and its real diffusion, with a total expenditure between AR and VR devices expected to reach 215 billion dollars. There are those, like Klecha & Co, ( who make more conservative forecasts and predict that the world spending on AR and VR is expected to reach approximately $160 billion by 2023.

A final overview, in the medium term, finally predicts that by 2022 AR and VR devices will have acquired a stable share of the hi-tech market, with sales forecasts that will reach 39.2 million units for VR devices and 26.7 million units for AR devices.

PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC Italia) foresees that this sector of immersive technologies (AR, MR and VR) will be able to bring 1,500 billion dollars and over 23 million new jobs into the world economy by 2030.

An updated market value estimate for the combination of AR and VR devices alone is $ 4.7 billion by 2025 with a total of 3.2 million users.

For more information, read the report produced by the project, reported alongside for convenience.


The project Creation of a regional network for the provision of innovative services based on advanced visualization technologies (3DLab-Sicilia) aims on the one hand to create and develop and on the other to validate and promote a sustainable regional network of three (3) centers for VR/AR and 3D visualization: one located in the province of Catania (at SWING: IT), one in Troina (EN, at IRCCS-OASI) and the third in Palermo (at IEMEST). This network is called 3DLab-Sicilia infrastructure.

The project also aims to validate and demonstrate infrastructure equipment and services with a series of applications (use cases). Some use cases have already been identified in the preparation phase of the project proposal and others will be identified during the life of the project by means of competitive selections and intensive training events: hackfests.

The applications of the project consistently intercept the themes of the Regional Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization 2014-2020 of the Sicilian Region (S3 Sicilia) and their products can, after the end of the project, be “placed on the market” and generate profit.

Further objectives of 3DLab-Sicilia are to federate the infrastructure with that of VISIONAIR and other international initiatives, in order to identify new markets, and to define the management, business and sustainability model of the infrastructure after the end of the project.

A salient element of the 3DLab-Sicilia work plan, which fully marries the concepts of Open Innovation and Open Innovation 2.0, with triple and quadruple helix, is to create a service within the infrastructure that borrows the concept of " liquid lab ". The "liquid labs", recently known in the industrial field with the synonym of "liquid studios", are both real and virtual environments that exploit innovative ICT services and solutions to help companies accelerate their innovation path, quickly transforming their ideas in concrete applications and services, with the use of innovative technologies and architectures, "intelligent automation" and new software development methodologies. The 3DLab-Sicilia "liquid lab" will be designed and implemented in such a way as to (i) allow a rapid development of applications that use VR/AR and 3D visualization and (ii) provide 360-degree support to all players in the "quadruple helix” of innovation.

In the context of the results dissemination plan, the “liquid lab” of 3DLab-Sicilia will be validated and demonstrated on a large scale through four editions of a temporary traveling exhibition - open to companies, investors and the general public - which will be set up in the Municipalities participating to the project and where the resources of the infrastructure and the various use cases can be "tested" by visitors.

The use cases that have already been determined , as well as those that will be identified during the life of the project will be demonstrated on a "large scale" with the direct involvement of the Public Administration and local authorities. For this purpose, several use cases have identified cultural and naturalistic, tourist, enhancement, monitoring and conservation paths of the territory, within the Park of Etna and Sicilian municipalities that include sites in their territory that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Militello in Val di Catania (CT), Mussomeli (CL),  Sortino (SR) e Vizzini (CT). For more information, visit the page about the sites of the project.

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