Is 2016 the year of VR? An article with this exact title appeared in Fortune magazine in December2015. From a market perspective, caution appears to be a good bet. Venture capitalists are best described as cautiously optimistic in this field. Some of the optimism is inspired by the March 2014 purchase of Oculus Rift by Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. At the time, he stated, “We feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.”

If certain leading technology companies dive even deeper into the virtual reality pool, there may be a time to look back at this year as a “shakedown” period.

One venture capitalist told Morris that by the end of this year, the industry watchers and financial interests will have a better idea what Apple, Microsoft, and Google will do.

Virtual reality status; how is it measured?

“How is virtual reality’s status measured?” Will the kingmaker’s in the industry decide that price of individual units is the only scale on which V.R. can be weighed? Or, is the actual status of the technology at the bench level, along with the satisfaction of early adopters, the only legitimate standard?

We could also ask if media coverage of players, large and small, will be the standard for measuring success, or at least an indication of who should continue the quest and who should not. How did the market react to stereoscopic viewers in the 1900s or to the View-Master introduced in 1939? What standards were used to evaluate these products? The View-Master was extremely popular for many years and is considered by some to be the precursor of Google Cardboard technology.

Edward Link’s Link trainer was patented in 1931.

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It was something of a financial success in that thousands of these so-called blue boxes were used to train World War II pilots. This answers several questions about how virtual reality can affect business, engineering, and manufacturing. It also tells us something about what can be achieved with VR technology and which industries will be changed by VR. If you have doubts, spend a few minutes in one of the state-of-the-art flight simulators in use today.

VR headsets have a long history

The first VR headset is credited to Morton Heilig (1960).

This specific method is alive and well today with the Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, Zeiss VR One, and several others, such as Microsoft Hololens (with some specific differences). Of course, this does not mean that the technology has gone through a complete metamorphosis. VR is not yet a gorgeous butterfly. But it has answered the question of importance with its use by the worldwide non-profit organization, The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Mindi Chahal mentioned in Market Week, in an interview with Katherine Crisp, head of strategy and innovation at UNICEF, that the organization is using virtual reality in their campaigns.

“It’s a powerful tool for building empathy,” Crisp stated. “Supporters can explore, discover and experience first-hand what their support does on the ground.” The film specially made for UNICEF’s VR campaign is called “Clouds Over Sidra.” With a focus on the Syrian refugee crisis, the story “is told through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl.”

Prices range from about $35 to $40 for products such as the Glyby 3D VR and the Motoraux 3D VR, to $79 for Homido creations. The Zeiss VR One comes in at about $125, right next to the Razer OSVR, which is currently unavailable from that source.

The Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition carries a $200 price tag at major retailer Best Buy. Sony PlayStation VR, with a price tag of $400 to $500, fits somewhere between that and Oculus Rift. Above that $500 level, you will probably be looking at Palmer Luckey/Facebook products.

Virtual reality has traveled quite a distance in the past 100 years but many industry watchers feel it has not arrived just yet.

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