GLOBAL: Seven out of 10 consumers across eight developed markets believe that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will become mainstream in six key areas – media, education, work, social interaction, tourism and retail.

That is according to a new study by Ericsson ConsumerLab, whose Merged Reality report combined qualitative research with an online survey of 9,200 consumers in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the UK and the US.

The qualitative element included a focus group discussion series completely in VR with participants from North America and Europe, as well as traditional focus groups involving current users of VR from Japan and South Korea.

Strikingly, the research revealed just how quickly global consumers expect VR and AR technologies to be adopted and how fundamentally the way people live, work and consume information may change.

For example, the media landscape is already being transformed, with consumers expecting virtual screens to start replacing TV and theatres in less than a year.

As much as half of early adopters have already increased their video usage in VR, while more than a third have shifted some of their video viewing on physical screens to video experiences in VR.

Meanwhile, two-fifths of early adopters believe classrooms and offices will be replaced by virtual spaces, and a quarter think AR will enable travel information and map overlays onto physical environments by next year.

The report also noted that early adopters of VR and AR expect next-generation networks like 5G to play a central role in making these experiences become mainstream.

More than a third (36%) expect 5G to provide VR mobility through a stable, fast and high-bandwidth network, while 30% of early adopters also expect 5G to enable tethered headsets to become wireless.

Interestingly, the study also explored the phenomenon of nausea that is sometimes associated with use of VR, which almost a fifth of respondents consider to be an issue.

But 5G again may be able to help with this problem because a quarter of early adopters expect 5G to address the nausea and sickness associated with VR.

Elsewhere, the report found that 61% of early adopters believe that VR could be used for education and social purposes – for example, by replicating physical classrooms, textbooks, field visits/experiments, and learning through demonstrations and interactivity.

And a quarter of early adopters believe that, within a year, students will be able to gain practical experiences without actually leaving the classroom.

Data sourced from Ericsson ConsumerLab; additional content by WARC staff