The ball goes streaking past you as Serena Williams unleashes a mighty serve. You shake your head, admonishing yourself for the misplay. You know you’ll get her next time—you’ve been preparing for this for at least five minutes. You ready your racket for the next serve. As you reach the apex of your backswing, the ball hits you square in the chest—point Williams. You pull off your Virtual Reality (VR) headset, reluctantly grumbling “Damn, she really is the GOAT.”
This is just one example of the immersive possibilities VR holds. At its most basic, virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment that users can interact with using special electronic equipment. Closely related, augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world.
These terms might conjure scenes from Back to the Future 2—and the 1980s hit film did manage to get a few things right. VR and AR have become prolific in our world within the last decade—and their impact is expanding to the consumer experience, from trade shows and shopping to travel and much more.