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Virtual reality isn’t exactly new, but it seems as though it is only just beginning to enter mainstream. Three major players are set to launch their respective VR products this 2016, with more tech companies to follow suit. After years of building and developing prototypes, consumers will finally have access to an end product that promises to change how they view the world.

Pretty casual worker using oculus rift in her office
Pretty casual worker using oculus rift in her office

Major Brands Are All Aboard

It looks as if all major brands are working on their own VR projects. After Facebook purchased Oculus for $2 billion back in 2014, more companies have shown interest in what appears to be the next big computing platform.

Aside from Oculus, Samsung and HTC also managed to create a lot of buzz surrounding their VR headsets. At the recently concluded Mobile World Congress, Samsung introduced a new addition to their VR line—the Gear 360. This 360-degree camera allows users to capture and edit VR-ready video more conveniently than ever before. It syncs with their Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones. With their Gear VR headset, Samsung may prove to be the only brand to offer an end-to-end virtual reality solution to consumers. It has APIs that allow developers to create games and apps, a 360-degree camera that enables users to generate their own VR content and their headset that offers a rich mobile VR experience.

HTC is mostly known for their smartphones, but teaming up with Valve has allowed them to create an outstanding VR headset called Vive. What sets the Vive apart from other VR gear is that it comes with full-body tracking. You can even respond to calls and texts from your smartphone without having to take off the headset. The consumer edition is pricier than the Oculus Rift. This can be justified by the fact that HTC and Valve wants to offer a VR experience in which users stand up and move around, whereas Oculus provides more of a seated experience.

Can Consumers Afford VR Headsets?

With such sophisticated technology, it is easy to imagine that the price of VR headsets will be through the roof. This year, Oculus and HTC announced how much their VR products would cost, finally giving everyone an idea about how much to save if they want to get a piece of these innovative gadgets.

The Oculus Rift is priced at $600 and since it requires a powerful computer, Oculus also offers consumers the option of buying a package consisting of their virtual reality headset and a compatible PC. The combo costs $1,500. The HTC Vive, meanwhile, retails at $799.

With more players about to launch their VR headsets, it would be interesting to see how much the prevailing cost of these devices will be. The increasing competition and advancements in technology over time should allow for a reduction in retail price in the future.

people, technology, future and progress - man with futuristic 3d glasses and microchip implant or sensors over gray background with virtual charts
People, technology, future and progress – man with futuristic 3d glasses and microchip implant or sensors over gray background with virtual charts

Applications Beyond The Realm Of Gaming

While gamers seem to have the most to be excited about when it comes to virtual reality, it is essential to see the applications of this new technology beyond the gaming world. The possibilities are endless and it is only a matter of time before different industries find a use for VR gadgets.

In terms of manufacturing, VR headsets can help optimize the process of engineering, designing and manufacturing a product. For instance, Ford uses virtual testing and prototyping. By eliminating the need to create a physical prototype, companies can save thousands upon thousands of dollars while enhancing productivity at the same time.

The real estate industry has also found a way to take advantage of VR gear. Brokers and developers set up virtual reality tours that show clients what a particular building would look like. This can tremendously speed up sales.

Woman in virtual reality glasses playing the game
Woman in virtual reality glasses playing the game

The Future Is Here

2016 has become a lot more exciting, thanks in large part to the much awaited launch of VR headsets. It is akin to the time when smartphones first gained ground and we have all witnessed how mobile devices improved in quality in a very short span of time. Manufacturers say that they are just focusing on the basics right now, which means that we are only at the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps it is time to take a step into the virtual world and see how it can transform lives as we know it.

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Kyle Johnson is a successful business owner who enjoys writing. Check out his site, National Laboratory Sales to find the best in custom lab casework and fume hoods.

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