VR and Education: A $700M Introduction

When most people think of VR and AR users, they imagine a group of gamers. What they may not imagine is a group of students--but that is about to change. When the original Game Boys came out in the early 1990’s, they had no place in the classroom, but it’s quite the opposite story with VR and AR. EdTech startups are popping up by the dozen, and VR/AR startups are making their way into the mix. For a classroom, this means that students can now have their class anywhere in the world--and for an early-stage startup or an investor, this means that there is a new market opportunity, a $700M one at that (According to Goldman Sachs).

A recent Consumer Electronics Show survey, sponsored by IEEE, asked respondents which market they thought would see the greatest impact from VR/AR. The response was a whopping 36% indicating that education would reap the greatest benefit! (WOW, WHAT?!)

The EdTech VR/AR market segment is mainly comprised of devices and digital content. Despite this being a new market, several forecasts have already been made. A recent market report published by The Goldman Sachs Group made a prediction that this segment will be worth $700M in the next five years. Additionally, Farm51, a video game company, predicts that by 2018 the AR device market will be worth $3.6B, with education being a primary user.

Forerunners like Google know that this is just the beginning for VR and AR in education, which is why they launched their Pioneer Expeditions Kit in 2015. The kit allow classrooms to go on a VR tour to anywhere in the world, including Mars. The kit includes everything from ASUS smartphones to Google Cardboard Headsets. To date, 500,000 classrooms have used the kit. Not only has this program encouraged more classrooms to adopt VR/AR into their lessons, but also, Google Cardboard can make it even less expensive to afford this type of experience (albeit maybe not the best quality...but we all need to start somewhere!).

So, what does this mean for startups and investors looking to profit from this opportunity? This means that with more classrooms incorporating VR and AR into their lessons, there will be a higher demand for both content and equipment in the coming quarters.  

Startups like Immersive VR Education, and zSpace (who’ve raised $56.61M to date) are already profiting from creating classroom content, which ranges from underwater lesson plans to AR anatomy classes. With views on technology in the classroom changing--supported by a higher demand for experiential learning--it is no longer a question of if VR/AR and Education will meet, it is now a question of who is going to make the best introduction.