Say the words ‘virtual reality’, and most people picture a niche community of enthusiasts, or gamers eager to get their hands on the latest tech.
But the extent of virtual reality’s evolution in recent years – to the point where it is a completely immersive experience – has rapidly accelerated the growth of the industry.
In short, VR is no fad – it’s here to stay, and the possibilities are endless.
Ekke Piirisild, director of London-based visualition studio VRtisan, told Metro.co.uk: ‘Virtual reality is something that people have to try out first hand to understand the potential that this technology has to offer.
‘We are yet to see a person who has experienced virtual reality and emerged unconvinced.’
Virtual reality remains most commonly associated with advances in gaming, but companies are beginning to sit up and take notice.
Take VRtisan, which blends virtual reality with the world of architecture, transporting the viewer into an exact, scale replica of a building.
You feel fully immersed in the virtual world and lose sense of the physical world around you.
The quality of the 360 degree scene is photo-realistic, and it’s easy to completely lose your sense of place in the real world.
You could be forgiven for thinking the experience is somewhat cold and lifeless, but it has character too.
If a bowl of apples is sitting on a coffee table, for instance, handheld controllers enable you to pick one up.
Ekke said: ‘Unlike their predecessors the virtual reality headsets available today offer a compelling and fully immersive virtual experience.
‘Compared to the headsets developed in the 1990s, the technology has reached a stage where both the hardware and software solutions enable users to experience high quality, realistic and engaging scenes.
‘There are many features in development such as eye tracking which will allow users to interact with the virtual world in completely new ways.
‘With many new and exciting products in the pipeline, there is no doubt that VR headsets will become commonplace in many households in the upcoming years.’
Much of the marketing of VR is focused on gaming, which may explain why it might be considered a fad.
But with the technology only improving – and equipment becoming cheaper – its appeal could soon spread to other industries.
It has proved to be a game changer in architecture and construction, and could prove to be elsewhere.
Ekke added: ‘By putting on the goggles you feel fully immersed in the virtual world and lose sense of the physical world around you.
‘You can interact with the scene and draw, sculpt, create music or travel the world.
‘Advances in the technology will make this experience more and more immersive by responding to all of our senses – users will be able to feel and smell, not just see and hear the virtual environment.
‘It will be amazing to see all the new ways users express themselves and create in this new medium.