Canada’s Immersive Technology Ecosystem has more than 350 companies,
spanning four main hubs of activity: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and
Alberta, with smaller centres in Central and Atlantic Canada. Immersive
technology (XR) is a family of technologies encompassing all forms of
computer-altered and extended reality (XR), including virtual reality
(VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and 360-degree video.
More than 100 new companies with immersive technology products and
services were founded across Canada between 2014 and 2017, and XR is
projected to add up to US$1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030,
though this projection will likely be mediated by the impacts of
COVID-19 in the short-term. Though many immersive technology companies
in Canada are still relatively young, the industry has seen growth.
Driving this growth is the subsequent release of smaller, more
affordable, and more portable hardware that is making consumer adoption
and commercial scalability easier and more widely accessible.
Despite its growth, Canada’s immersive technology industry is still
maturing. About 91% of companies in the industry are small to medium
sized enterprises (SMEs). This figure jumps to 98% when considering just
Canadian-owned companies and 100% for Canadian-owned companies that
exclusively or almost entirely provide immersive technology products and
services. As a result of financing challenges, the growth of Canada’s
immersive technology industry has somewhat plateaued since 2016. VR and
AR were thought to have reached an inflection point for broad consumer
adoption that year, but larger scale uptake has not yet taken place.
The number of new immersive technology companies launched each year
has also declined in Canada since 2016, but industry consolidation,
better hardware, and new promising use cases for immersive technology
across industry lines provide unique opportunities for future growth and
adoption. As new doors open to further growth and maturation, all eyes
are on the next hardware breakthrough, which — as highlighted by
interviewees in this study — could be a key component to ignite the next
period of significant growth.