Virtual reality, or VR, is the futuristic scenario you’ve seen in sci-fi movies where someone puts on a headset and then enters another environment: a digital world with movie-like scenes, immersive games, maybe a web browser.
The recent hit movie “Ready Player One” was all about virtual reality, and in fact Facebook reportedly gave the book on which it was based to all new employees on the team making its Oculus VR products.
VR is different from another term you may have heard: AR (augmented reality), also known as mixed reality, which still lets you see the real world when you use it. That’s what Microsoft is doing with its HoloLens, and what Apple and other companies are already doing on phones.
While AR had one big hit — Pokemon Go, which took the world by storm in 2016 — virtual reality has been a nerdy hobby for the most part. That’s because it’s been expensive, clunky or both. You either needed to buy a headset in addition to a smartphone, or a whole big kit and a powerful computer to run it all.
Facebook saw this and addressed a new market with the Oculus Go, which started shipping earlier this month. It’s a fully portable virtual reality experience that doesn’t require anything more than what’s in the box.