When iPhones and iPads came out, most people were skeptical that these devices could change the world as we know it. Now most people can't imagine their lives without them. Immersive virtual reality—not the gimmicky Google Glass or Apple Watch—will be the next big thing.
People love escapism. We love to travel. We love to have adventures. We love to explore. We just want to get out of the grinding reality of the day to day. But real travel is too expensive and it can only happen a few a days a year. It's not a possibility for the 99%. That's why we get into books, games, movies and TV series. We try to escape through them.
But that's not enough. What about if there was a way to plug into a different reality, to fool our senses into thinking that we are in an alternate world?
Through decades, writers and filmmakers have imagined this, from Star Trek's holodeck to Brainstorm to the Matrix's plug-into-a-synthetic-world. Escaping to alternative realities and fantasy worlds with the ease and convenience of turning on a switch is an awesome possibility. One that requires almost no investment and no risk—after all, our desire for adventure and exploration is only inferior to our sense of self-preservation.
This Oculus Rift thing is the start of it. For the first time, a company has been able to create a low cost virtual reality thingamajig that actually makes people believe they are in a different world. Any kind of people, from grandmas to teens, can feel the sensation of being in a different place.
It's still not Star Trek's holographic deck, of course. And it's not the full sensorial experience of the Matrix. We are still decades away from that (but only decades!)
But the hardware and the software have converged to make the first step possible, which is why creators of worlds like the legendary gaming genius John Carmack has jumped right into it, pretty much leaving his own company behind. Because this Oculus Rift thing has the potential of quickly becoming the next big thing, not for just a few geeks, but for the entire "first world" population.
A population eager to get away to the remote landscapes that we will never visit, to drive the cars that we will never own, to date the stars that we will never meet, to fast-forward to the future that we will never see, or explore the fantasy worlds that will never exist, with just one click.