TUM – Technical University of Munich Menu
Man with virtual-reality glasses designig a turbine.
Virtual models will transform the product development process. (Image: gorodenkoff / istockphoto.com)
  • Research news

Virtual and augmented reality: Seven industries facing disruptionRadical changes through virtual reality

Virtual and augmented reality will have potential applications in countless business sectors as the technologies mature. A study by economists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) shows that drastic disruption lies ahead for seven different sectors, impacting existing products, business models and production processes. These sectors include manufacturing, retail and the real estate sector.

When new technologies are integrated into a wide range of applications, as opposed to merely generating single products, they can revolutionize entire industries. Virtual and augmented reality have that potential. Virtual reality technology (VR) creates a virtual environment with which people can interact using mobile devices, especially VR glasses. Augmented reality technology (AR) presents users with virtual objects in their natural surroundings. For example, VR glasses might display information about an object in a person's field of vision.

What charges are in store for companies not involved in developing these technologies? In a first step, Prof. Thomas Hutzschenreuter and his team at the Chair of Strategic and International Management at TUM evaluated existing VR and AR research, interviewed experts and analyzed start-ups. On this basis they estimated the time frame and the branches for the rise of these technologies.

Disruption from 2020 on

The researchers' prediction: In seven of 41 industries studied, these technological developments will lead to radical changes between 2020 and 2040:

  • In manufacturing, VR and AR will enable companies to reduce costs and increase productivity. Virtual models will transform the product development process. In the production process, workers will see instructions, hints and other information displayed in their field of vision. Teams distributed across multiple locations will work together in virtual environments.
  • Another place where the new technologies will make working life easier will be automotive workshops, where tasks have become increasingly complex with the growing differentiation and sophistication of modern cars. Augmented manuals will display step-by-step instructions for a wide range of repairs for the vehicle currently in the service bay.
  • In retail, a massive transformation will be seen in segments where online sales now still play a very minor role. One example is the furniture business: With augmented reality, customers will create visualizations of furniture without leaving home and then place their order online. Meanwhile, segments that are already doing business online will be able to reduce costs. One example is fashion, where fewer products will be returned when buyers can "try on" garments using avatars.
  • The communications and IT services industry will transform social VR services into a mass medium. Companies will offer a wealth of virtual worlds where users can meet and interact face to face. With options ranging from cafés to games, and from holidays to dating services, this will bring disruption to many sectors.
  • The music industry will undergo massive changes when VR technology enables fans to experience concerts anywhere and anytime. Marketers will be able to offer fans the virtual experience of sitting at any desired location in the audience, or even on stage, with excellent sound quality. At the same time, demand for concert tickets – now an important revenue driver following the decline in CD sales – will fall off.
  • The real estate industry will see changes in the way buildings are marketed. Companies offering virtual tours through buildings – whether they are still on the drawing board or existing – will have a competitive edge. The expensive and time-consuming process of constructing prototypes will be a thing of the past. VR applications will also become the default approach to planning the interior design.
  • For the educational sector, the researchers predict an increase in market share for universities offering online degree courses. Virtual reality classrooms will make studying at home more attractive and effective by facilitating better interactions between students and teachers while opening doors for new learning methods and more user-friendly course materials.

"Companies need to find strategic partners"

"Virtual and augmented reality are disruptive technologies: They will relentlessly and rapidly eliminate existing products, business models and production processes," says Thomas Hutzschenreuter. "This process will be moving full speed ahead in just a few years. To remain competitive, companies in the industries we have identified will have to develop new strategies. Most of them will need to find partners because they lack the necessary expertise in virtual and augmented reality. Those that succeed will have excellent chances of achieving growth by boosting productivity while lowering their costs."


Hutzschenreuter, Thomas; Burger-Ringer, Christian: Impact of Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality on Industries, 2018; DOI: 10.14459/2018md1454069


Prof. Dr. Thomas Hutzschenreuter
Technical University of Munich
Chair of Strategic and International Management
Tel.: +49 89 289 28131

Corporate Communications Center

Technical University of Munich Klaus Becker

Article at tum.de

TUM-Präsident Wolfgang A. Herrmann (l.) beim Festakt zur Eröffnung des Neubaus für den TUM Campus Heilbronn. (Bild: J. Häffner / TUM)

TUM Campus Heilbronn launched into digitized future

With a festive ceremony, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Dieter Schwarz Foundation have officially opened the new TUM Campus Heilbronn building. It is intended for students preparing preparing for...

Brücke zwischen zwei Gebäuden der TUM

TUM is Germany's strongest university in business sciences

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is the strongest research university in Germany when it comes to business sciences. The best researcher is business informatics specialist Prof. Helmut Krcmar, Dean of the TUM Campus...

Männer in Anzügen auf Rolltreppen in entgegengesetzten Richtungen

CEOs change course when they resemble their predecessors

The greater the similarity of newly appointed CEOs to their predecessors, the more likely they are to change the company's strategy. This result – contrary to prevailing opinion in the field – was demonstrated in a study by...

Das Sieger-Team von NavVis mit TUM-Vizepräsident Thomas Hofmann. (Bild: U. Benz / TUM)

Navigating indoors

The 2018 Presidential Entrepreneurship Award of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) goes to NavVis. The company develops applications for mapmaking and navigation in interior spaces, exact to the centimeter. NavVis was...

Aaron Barth testet das neue Head-Mounted Display während eines Simulator-Flugs.

Vision through the clouds

Fog, blizzards, gusts of wind – poor weather can often make the operation of rescue helicopters a highly risky business, and sometimes even impossible. A new helmet-mounted display, developed by researchers at the Technical...

Intelligente Zahnschiene SensoBite - Bild: Bernhard Schmidt / TUM

A look at the digital medicine of the future

In the future, there may be medication that is tailored individually to each patient. Doctors might operate wearing 3D data glasses and thus be able to work with greater precision. Diagnosing rare diseases, which today can...

Eine Versuchsteilnehmerin steht vor einer Leinwand. Sie trägt einen Motion-Capturing-Anzug und ein Head-Mounted-Display.

The virtual pedestrian

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are designed to identify traffic hazards. But to assess the behavior of other road users, these systems need detailed data. That is why researchers at the Technical University of...