It might not be an exaggeration to say this is the week when it all changed for virtual reality.
Facebook has launched its Oculus Rift headset to the public, Sky has launched a major new commitment to the technology and Samsung has developed its Gear VR, which is set to be a more affordable consumer option (if a little frowned upon by its high-end competitors).
It’s the week the tech geeks among us sit up like rabbits in headlights, because a 30-year concept has finally become a viable product, when the dream of being transported to a galaxy far, far away and fighting with lightsabers actually looks like it could become a reality, if a virtual one.
Do you remember when we thought calling friends and family across the pond using a telephone was a hard concept to grasp and when the sceptics thought that email would never take off?
Virtual reality is a new technical triumph and a concept that Goldman and Sachs thinks will be worth $80 billion by 2025. It’s creating new, sexy experiences of its own, with enthusiasts saying it’ll change the way we live, eat, play and entertain. Like many others, Facebook is naturally tilting at the gaming industry first, though Zuckerberg has suggested expanding into politics, marketing and of course, social networking in the future.
And whilst you may be asking yourself why you should wake-up to the world of virtual reality – partly because having a large headset strapped to your face may fill your heart with dread – there’s growing evidence that this once Hollywood and outlandish concept could be life-changing.
Research suggests that virtual reality could transform the healthcare and education industries; Oculus Rift-style headsets are proving to cure phobias and next month an operation on a British cancer patient will be live-streamed around the world using VR, designed to make medical students feel as if they are in the operating theatre.
Whilst there’s still a way to go in its development, virtual reality has come a long way since we first saw it as fantasy and with the growth of the readily available Google Cardboard, there’s now a real opportunity for companies who have innovation at their heart to integrate it into their brand.
We’re steadily moving into a world where virtual reality can have a real impact, which is why so many people find this once alien concept, so exciting.