I want to be wowed. I want a sense of magic in my life. I want, simply, to be amazed.
Many of us feel this way, and this basic human desire has given rise to incredible new "realities" -- such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality -- that have recently made unprecedented strides. Still, skeptics believe this technology is just the latest marketing fad.
Full disclosure: I am a virtual reality evangelist who pioneered an experimental VR lab at my advertising agency. But years of zealotry and experience have led me to develop keen insights. I'm here to tell you that VR is the future, and the future is now. Here's why I think you should start taking VR seriously:
VR is a mass-market technology
Piper Jaffray estimates consumers will buy more than 10 million VR headsets before year's end, and a recent Nielsen Media Lab study found that 24% will likely use or purchase VR in the next year. People interested in VR are early adopters who pay a premium for high-end products.
YouTube and Facebook have allowed us to dip our toes in the virtual reality waters. The YouTube 360 channel has more than 1.3 million subscribers, and its action thriller "Help" has been viewed 2 million times. Facebook 360 Video has been a hit with consumer-generated and brand-created content since it debuted this summer, and Mark Zuckerberg demoed an in-the-works version of Facebook VR with built-in social and sharing at an Oculus conference. He promises an untethered headset is forthcoming at a lower price than Oculus Rift's $600.
You can't get much more mass than Pokémon Go, an AR game that's had some 500 million downloads since its summer launch and become the highest-grossing app ever in the U.S. It has users in 100 countries.
The application for Google Cardboard has been downloaded more than 10 million times, proving that an inexpensive piece of tech can flourish alongside sophisticated gadgets, and Samsung Gear VR is predicted to sell nearly 5.5 million units this year, according to IHS.
Just this month, Google unveiled its Daydream platform with a comfy View headset, Sony PlayStation VR launched to projections of nearly 1.5 million units sold and Oculus announced the December release of its Touch hand-held motion controllers. The company also plans to invest $250 million in entertainment and games content.
VR is drawing master storytellers
Jon Favreau ("The Jungle Book," "Iron Man" franchise) released his VR experience "Gnomes & Goblins" as a free preview for the HTC Vive headset this fall, and he's one of a growing number of filmmakers who have produced VR extras for their big-screen projects. Christopher Nolan for "Interstellar" is another. Meanwhile, heavyweights such as Industrial Light & Magic's xLab plot VR's entertainment evolution.
STX Entertainment, the scrappy young studio behind this summer's millennial horror fan fave "Don't Breathe," recently bought VR producer Surreal, and "The Simpsons" incorporated VR into its 600th episode this Halloween.