Two of the most talked-about IoT (Internet of Things) technologies today are AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality). The potential to transform industries from manufacturing to healthcare seems just around the corner with AR and VR; in some cases, it’s just a matter of finding that “killer app” that takes the technology mainstream. Education is another sector that could benefit tremendously from continued innovation in AR and VR.

According to ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, the next couple of years will likely be big for the technology. Whereas 2016 was a year of discovery and 2017 is shaping up to be characterized by pilots and deployments from early adopters, the firm suggests AR in enterprise applications will hit an “inflection point” in 2018, leading to a significant jump in adoption across verticals. Driving this growth will be a steadily increasing interest in how AR and VR can benefit businesses. Specifically, ABI forecasts total market revenues across devices, platforms, and licensing will reach $96 billion in 2021.

In education, the possibilities are exciting. The industry is slowly shifting to a more hands-on, interactive model of teaching and learning, and AR/VR will likely be an important part of this. Since many students retain more information when they are actively engaged in material—for instance, when they are seeing and/or doing something rather than just reading or hearing a lesson—an augmented or virtual reality solution could be the key to engaging connected students who live in an increasingly connected world.

Foundry10, www.foundry10.org, a group of researchers, students, educators, partners, and collaborators that work to understand the experiences that drive learning, conducted a VR pilot during the 2015-2016 school year that involved hundreds of students at multiple schools between the ages of 12 and 18. As part of Foundry10’s discoveries, the company says after being exposed to VR, students were more likely to say they think they would learn more from lessons if they used VR in the classroom. At the end of the program, 42% of students involved in the pilot said they wanted VR to be used as a teaching tool, and 24% said they want VR to be used for immersion and novel experiences.

Key trends making VR more accessible in education include more affordable and advanced hardware. Headsets are falling in price, though there is still a ways to go before VR has a chance to become ubiquitous. Headsets and accessories such as controllers are also becoming more advanced, enabling new applications of VR technology in education and beyond. On the software side of the equation, more content creation platforms are opening doors for innovators to create. Simultaneously, the amount of engaging, unique, and innovative content relevant to various verticals is also growing.

If ABI Research’s prediction about 2018 being an inflection point in the market is correct, all of these trends may just come together in the next couple of years to create a growth spurt. Education-specific VR applications range from teaching public speaking to helping students visualize star charts and human anatomy, allowing them to virtually visit far-away museums, and even taking them under the sea to experience famous shipwrecks like the Titanic.

Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #IoT #M2M #education #VR #AR