If there’s one bandwagon to take note of nowadays, it’s Virtual Reality. According to the Digi-Capital Report released last year, AR/VR industry is expected to hit $120 billion by 2020 while Pippar Jaffery, the US investment bank, suggests that by 2018, 24 million VR viewing headsets will be sold.

R software market size worldwide (in billion U.S. dollars)
Data source: Statista.

Virtual Reality is by no means new. In the eighties, the term was popularized by Jaron Lanier when he impressed NASA with his multi-sensory DataGlove and goggles. Unfortunately, they failed to make any impact.

But the pivotal moment for the VR industry came around in 2014 when Mark Zuckerberg, announced that Facebook was buying hot Virtual Reality gaming company Oculus VR for $2 billion. Since then, immersive technology has truly become a force to reckon with.

Here are 5 things you should know about VR.

VR and AR aren’t the same thing

Virtual Reality (VR) provides you with the ability to experience a different world from the one you live in. To make it work, there has to be hardware and software involved. Once you’re in the 3D landscape, the focus will be entirely on that location until you remove the headset.

Augmented Reality (AR) on the other hand is a computer-generated simulation of a 3D or 2D environment, which is superimposed onto the real world. AR also needs a software and hardware to work, but it is more of a composite view of graphics with contextual layers of information

United Nations is solving real-world problems with VR

Chris Milk, the founder and CEO of the the virtual reality company Within (formerly Vrse), collaborated with the UN and Gabo Arora for the United Nations Millennium Campaign to leverage new media to promote social causes. He helped Arora to direct United Nations’ first VR documentary which shows the life in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.

Clouds Over Sidra, made its debut at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2015 where more than 120 diplomats waited in line for a chance to put on a Samsung Gear VR headset and watch the film.

Later, Milk and Arora made a documentary Waves of Grace, which looks at the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak by following a Liberian survivor.

You can watch Clouds Over Sidra below.

VR headsets will not burn a hole in your pocket

In case of VR headsets’ prices, you get exactly what you pay for.

Costs can be very low. For example, you can buy a Google Cardboard headset for as cheap as $5. Or if you prefer something more sturdy, there’s the Samsung VR which retails around $99, assuming you have the latest Samsung mobile phone.

If you want the real deal, there’s Oculus Rift for $599. It tracks your head in all directions, so you can lean in and get right up close to virtual objects. The catch: It requires a powerful gaming PC to generate its graphics along with a tether leading up to your head.

Finally, the ultimate VR experience, for now, is the HTC Vive for $799. It lets you reach out and grab objects in Virtual Reality.

VR is not only about gaming

The current VR boom may be focused on games but it has so much more to offer. Just imagine walking through your new house before a single brick is laid, or roam around Paris from the comfort of your home.

But apart from living in a virtual world, there are also branches in which VR helps to solve real-life problems, whether it’s medical students sitting on a surgery or painting in three dimensions.

Painting in VR using Google Tilt Brush

Other possible uses of VR (but not limited to) are:

  • the real-estate & shopping,
  • tourism & exploration,
  • education,
  • entertainment,
  • psychology,
  • design.

Mark Zuckerberg even said that he saw VR as a “communication platform.”

Disney and Nokia have signed a multi-year deal to make VR videos

Nokia Technologies announced that they will work Disney to provide equipment and VR technologies to suppose the creation of special VR content for a range of Disney films. Both the companies worked together in the movie The Jungle Book where Disney used OZO cameras to create 360 videos.

Launched in November 2015, OZO is the world’s first and only virtual reality camera aimed at professional content creators. It features real-time VR preview, 3D 360 degree spatial AV capture, full compatibility with workflows and the ability to dramatically reduce to post-production time, complexity and cost.

There’s no denying that we are only on the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Virtual Reality trends. Do you want to dive into the industry and create your own app? Chcek why a mobile application can be a good business idea.