Imagine waking up in your home, strapping on some headwear, and traveling anywhere in the world. It’s not teleportation or science fiction but the next step in virtual reality technology. With recent advances in VR tech, consumers will soon experience destinations thousands of miles away without even leaving their area code.

Virtual Reality systems like the Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus, and Samsung’s Gear VR  are pioneering the advancements of virtual reality travel. High definition 3D displays trick the mind by projecting a highly interactive world equipped with an accelerometer (a device that measure a user’s acceleration), gyroscope (a disc or wheel inside a device that provides calculations of orientation and rotation, much like the technology in a smartphone), and a compass to track the user’s movements and position during use. Synced audio and motion detecting treadmills provide additional elements to help fully immerse the user into the destination of their choosing. You can go for a run on the beaches of Marbella in the morning and take a stroll through the streets of Paris in the evening all with the same device and without taking a step outside of your home.

Historically, many challenges have faced virtual reality technology. This has caused products to experience limited time on the consumer market and ultimately failing to provide a truly believable VR experience. Feeling dizziness or overcome with nausea ruins all enjoyment and leaves the user with a lack of confidence in the abilities of any virtual reality device. Overcoming these challenges has inspired leading companies to break down artificial limitations, promising for a better technology. With years of research and development, companies like Oculus Rift have come to a point of great confidence their device.

An additional challenge in bringing virtual reality to consumer’s homes is the additional technology required to operate a device at its fullest potential.  To run properly, users will require a computer with minimum features, such as:

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel Core i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

The price range for a user starting from scratch could run upwards of $1,000 to $1,500. For those already with sufficient computers, prices for VR gear will cost just around $350. In its early stages as a consumer product, VR is sure to see many improvements in the near future, solving cost challenges while making improvements for every user’s experience.

Though there are challenges, the growing excitement for virtual reality technology is clear. Entertainment, gaming, and advertisement industries will be shaped by virtual reality, placing users in unimaginable settings and creating lasting memories while promoting product and a more intimate interaction. Likewise, the future is bright for virtual reality travel and will include real world destinations, fictional creations, and could even have you swimming along the ocean floor and landing on distant planets.