Chances are good that virtual reality isn’t part of your entertainment diet yet. But by the end of the year it will be if a cadre of filmmakers, game designers, and tech executives has anything to say about it.
At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the number of VR entries has exploded, from just a few last year to more than two dozen. They run the gamut, inviting viewers into ghost stories, the lead role in a science fiction film, and walking alongside an Ebola survivor in West Africa. Facebook is pushing VR hard as well. The parent company of Oculus VR rolled out 360 Video in September and has already started releasing clips into users’ news feeds (including this ad for Stars Wars: The Force Awakens).
This is all possible because the hardware for both making and watching VR has matured by leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. For consumers, VR headsets are due out this year from the likes of Oculus, Sony, and a partnership between HTC and Valve. And smartphone-based models are already available. Late last year the Consumer Electronics Association forecast that 1.2 million VR headsets will be sold in 2016.
This missing link has been content—but now that it’s being filled in, it won’t be long until we get a glimpse of this immersive future.