It’s a tactile chill down the spine or a visual spectacle that stirs your wonder. Experiences in the realm of virtual reality (VR) make people gape in astonishment, and more people now have access to these experiences than ever before. Yes, virtual reality, once the purview of those with deep pockets or access to high-tech labs, is going mainstream and blending our reality with entertainment in ways never thought possible.

Virtual reality conceives whole new immersive worlds and imagines novel realities that thrust users into surreal environs. It was just a few years ago when VR was an exclusive term whispered only within tech circles or seen in sci-fi films. But now, the technology is practically on everyone’s lips, and it’s not just tech enthusiasts and gamers who are enthused. Filmmakers, educators, advertisers, and even healthcare professionals are reaping the benefits and exploring the limitless potential of VR.

The scope of VR is expanding, and its costs are plummeting. Oculus Rift, the first real commercial venture into VR headsets, initially retailed for a sizeable $600 in 2016. Four years later, the latest version, Oculus Quest 2, was released for half that cost, serving as concrete evidence of VR’s push toward affordability and accessibility.

Not forgetting Google’s Cardboard and Daydream devices, which put VR in the hands of anyone with a smartphone and a few spare dollars. Meanwhile, tech companies like HTC with its Vive headset, Sony with PlayStation VR, and Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus VR, highlight the growing trend of investing millions into the development of VR.

Perhaps one of the critical areas where VR is altering our perception of reality is within entertainment. Gaming is the obvious example, where AAA companies such as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts have developed titles like ‘Star Trek: Bridge Crew’ and ‘Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond’ respectively for VR. Yet, the entertainment industry is no longer just a one-player show for VR.

Cinemas are developing VR-based experiences like the VOID, which treats visitors to out-of-this-world experiences ranging from Star Wars to Ghostbusters. Music concerts are going VR with companies like MelodyVR and Oculus Venues providing fans the closest possible experience to a live performance, complete with backstage access and VIP viewing spots.

Far beyond the world of entertainment, VR is making strides into other industries and transforming traditional ways of work. For instance, in education, pioneering teachers are making field trips to Mars a reality, or at least a virtual one. Similarly, healthcare professionals are using VR to undertake virtual surgeries, something incredibly useful during the pandemic when social distancing became necessary.

At the same time, VR is also challenging our understanding of social interaction. Social VR platforms such as AltspaceVR, Rec Room, and VRChat, are offering whole new dimensions for people to connect and interact devoid of geographical boundaries.

Virtual reality is not just a tech-whizz’s dream hobbyist toy anymore. It is a monumental technological shift that is weaving together our realities and creating an entirely new pattern of engagement and entertainment. As the world becomes increasingly digital, virtual reality provides the bridge between the tangible and the virtual, revolutionizing our comprehension of reality and, consequently, how we interact with it.

Given the pace at which it’s evolving and propagating, the day won’t be far when we may live more within the constructs of virtual reality than in our current physical reality. As encapsulated by futurist Ray Kurzweil, “By the 2030s, virtual reality will be totally realistic and compelling and we will spend most of our time in virtual environments.” We are on the cusp of a VR revolution that shows no signs of slowing down and it would be wise for all industries to understand and leverage this remarkable technology.

1. Oculus:
2. Google Cardboard:
3. The VOID:
4. MelodyVR:
5. AltspaceVR:
6. Ray Kurzweil: “The Singularity is Near”