What Is the Future of Virtual Reality and How Is It Being Used Now?

Virtual reality might seem like a futuristic pipe-dream straight out of a 1980s sci-fi flick. However, the technology, or at least some form of it, is no longer a dream; it’s very real and being put to use at this very moment. Here’s what you need to know about today’s VR and how it’ll be used in the future.

Virtual Reality and Gaming

With little doubt, the biggest improvements in virtual reality technology are coming from the video game industry. While many, many tech companies have at least some stake in VR projects, a three-way rivalry between HTC, Oculus, and Sony–which produce the Vive, Rift, and PlayStation VR, respectively–is pushing interactive gaming to newer and greater heights. While these gaming headsets cost hundreds of dollars, they offer a near-indescribable level of immersion that you can’t get by playing a video game on a TV, even if it is 4K.

Competitive Drone Racing With VR

One interesting application of virtual reality combines the technology with another gadget that’s in vogue these days: drones. Drone racing is a fast-paced sport that pits quick-witted pilots against each other as they fly their drones through glowing hoops. The twist is that these pilots first strap on a VR headset, which streams a first-person view of the device they’re controlling. It’s a dizzying prospect, but it’s one that’s already proven to be popular, with ESPN having broadcast races on its channels during 2016.

Putting VR Into the Hands of the Consumer

There’s nothing stopping you from going out and buying a VR headset right now – except, perhaps, the price. With high-end headsets costing at least $500, that kind of investment can be a little hard to swallow if you’re looking to just dip your toes in the virtual reality waters. Smartphone companies have leapt to plug this lower-end market, with Google and Samsung both offering less expensive VR headsets that use your phone to power the visuals. While these headsets are far less powerful than the higher-end products from HTC, Oculus, and Sony, they’re still a great demonstration of what virtual reality can do.

The Future of VR

It’s a little hard to properly state just how cool VR can be unless you’ve tried it yourself. Once you strap a headset on and actually feel like you’re on top of a mountain, at the bottom of the sea, or in space, you’ll see how exciting the future of VR’s going to be. While gaming will surely benefit from the immersion of virtual reality, expect to see classrooms, from elementary school to college, make use of its potential visual teaching capabilities. Other industries, like architecture, medicine, and aerospace, will also benefit from life-sized 3D models running in lifelike simulations. In all, the possibilities are truly endless.

You might not believe in virtual reality. That’s fair, as a lot of interesting technology has come and go in the past few decades. However, if the future of VR turns out the way many hope it will, it could end up as big as the internet and social media. One day, our decescents may very well laugh at our primitive flat-screen TVs as they strap on their VR headsets.

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