“We’re making a long-term bet that immersive, virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people’s daily life.” – Marc Zuckerberg

I’m pretty sure that the robot rebellion is set to start here pretty soon, (Matrix *cough* *cough*), but until then, Facebook, Sony, Microsoft, Samsung, and a gamut of other companies have promised to provide quality virtual reality technology – because who needs the real world right?

So, in case you’ve been pulling a Patrick Star (you know…living under a rock), virtual reality is basically a virtual environment that you can interact with in some physical way.  There are a variety of headsets, “controllers”, gloves, and software beginning to hit the consumer market with price ranges on two different extremes.  For instance, you can change your Android-based smartphone into a headset by using the Google Cardboard platform alongside inexpensive third-party “viewers” such as I Am Cardboard (starts at $19.99).  So once you pop your phone into this sucker you basically have a cheap personal virtual reality headset and you can download some pretty cool little apps like a virtual Paul McCartney concert that gives you a 360-degree view of the show.  Twenty bucks to see a Beatle? Sign me up.

Now if you want to go big and stay home, the Facebook acquired Oculus Rift will run you a pretty penny (or 50,000 to be exact)…that’s $500 for my non-mathematicians.  This bad boy is set to change the gaming world with its OLED displaying a 2160 x 1200 resolution, 360-degree head tracking tech, built-in headphones, and Xbox 360 controller. 

The Oculus Rift does have some steep competition though in the HTC Vive which is shipping now at $799.  For that kind of cash you get a headset, base stations to track your movement as you walk around a 15-by-15-foot space, and controllers.  Worried about cracking your head as you skedaddle around a virtual paradise?  Don’t worry…the Vive has a front camera that shows you when you’re getting to close to the wall or other people and can even outline nearby objects to prevent a painful fall.          

These aren’t the only headsets of course, but just a few of the more recognizable names out there at the moment. 

So there you have it.  Virtual reality has been around for a minute now, but the technology is finally starting to catch up with the desired outcome.  For right now the tech is basically designed to enhance gaming experiences and let you sight see locations you might not necessarily have an opportunity to visit.  And really taking a virtual trip around Paris doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.  However, companies (a la Facebook) are betting that virtual reality will actually become a platform that can improve not just gaming, but education and the workforce as well.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  If you’re a gamer or just like to keep up with purchasing the latest gadgets, a virtual reality headset might just be the next best thing since sliced bread.  So if you do end up buying one let me know how it goes.  Wouldn’t mind a little virtual adventure myself.

But wait.  There’s more.  You just have to be willing to take the red pill (Matrix again *cough* *cough*). Quantum physicists have begun to suggest that the reality we all know, love, and recognize may actually be a simulation.  Or in other words – we may already all be in a virtual reality right now as we speak.  There are quite a few paradoxes dealing with the laws of physics that hint at our entire universe being nothing more than a very, very, very detailed and engrossing virtual environment.  In fact, the reality of atomic uncertainty as discovered through quantum physics even proposes that our local universe may merely just be one in a seemingly unlimited wave of universes.      

Now to be absolutely honest, as a scientific layman, I don’t necessarily understand the entire scope of discoveries and mathematics that point to these theories, but if you’re willing to do a little Google research, I promise that the rabbit hole can be a very exciting journey to tumble into.  So just a little bit of (imaginary) food for thought as you strap on that headset; you may actually be playing a game inside a game!