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Virtual Reality. Although the term “virtual reality” wasn’t really used until the late 1980’s, the concept has been around since as early as the 1800’s. From Stereoscopic photos and viewers (think ViewMaster) to flight simulators and the Sensorama, artists, scientists and inventors have tried to take everyday experiences to the next level.

In the early 1990’s, when VR pods entered shopping malls and arcades across America, it ended up being a fun idea that fell short. After a two-decade hiatus, VR returned success and 2016 has become the year of the VR Headset.

VR Today

If you have a VR headset, it may seem like your opportunities are endless. Whether you’re immersing yourself into the world of extreme sports by surfing, watching your favorite movie projected from your headset, playing a game of craps at an online casino, or even a real-life roller coaster, your virtual experience can be exhilarating and may feel more real than early inventors could have ever imagined.

While up until recently, VR has been mostly used for entertainment purposes, it is also being used for more practical purposes like real estate properties, visiting college campuses, and job interview training for individuals with autism spectrum disorder or PTSD.

When it comes to VR being unconventional, one could argue that VR itself is somewhat unconventional, as it’s hardly a traditional way to experience the world. So whether VR is used for food advertising or to even watch a concert, this seemingly unconventional viewing experience can be beneficial to individuals all over the globe.

The Future of Virtual Reality

The future success of VR may heavily depend on whether or not a high-quality headset becomes more affordable for masses (right now they are about $600). Although cardboard headsets are a cheaper alternative, it would still cost a significant amount of money to distribute a large amount to public sectors (not just the gaming sector).

If VR use can become popular enough to be used on a daily basis and not just for gaming, it looks to have a promising future. Take online shopping for example. According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, over 50% of surveyed shoppers make a majority of their purchases online.

Currently, businesses like Wayfair and IKEA offer a VR shopping experience, which gives shoppers an opportunity to see a product from every angle and in different colors. As more companies adopt the VR viewing option, they are likely to see more success in sales and possibly fewer issues with complaints and returns.

When it comes to education and healthcare, VR headsets may be a valuable tool in success in schools and individuals taking better care of themselves. Imagine the possibilities in education when young students can take a virtual field trip to the Antarctic or along the Appalachian Trail? In the healthcare sector, VR headsets can already aid in recovery and to ease the worries of young patients. With approximately 44 million people avoiding a visit to the doctor’s office, VR can help bring patients back to their doctors and encourage them to take care of any health worries.

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