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CES 2017 proves virtual reality is here to stay

While many people worried that virtual reality might never break out of being an entertaining gimmick, sales are showing quite the opposite.

At this week’s CES, Samsung Electronics America Presidents Tim Baxter announced that more than 5 million Gear VR headsets have been sold since the device launched in November 2015. Additionally, consumers have watched more than 10 million hours of 360-video.

These facts seem to indicate that entry-level VR, such as the Gear, are doing much of the legwork for the technology. Affordable to a wider audience than the more expensive PC-based counterparts, these devices allow millions to get a taste of VR. While not as intense as some offerings from PC-driven devices such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, these simpler experiences are training consumers for the many ways VR is being used or will be soon.

Some arenas in which VR looks to be expanding might surprise you. For example, virtual reality can take jurors directly into the reconstruction of a crime scene or accident during criminal and civil trials. Others are using the infinite depths of VR to develop virtual workspaces so that employees at different locations can collaborate in the same virtual office. Virtual reality also provides inexpensive and safe options to train first responders, especially bomb-squad members and firefighters.

Companies are quickly getting into VR as a whole new dimension for advertising. The most impressive uses so far are from Volvo and Dior. Volvo offered Volvo Reality, an app that allows users to check out the newest vehicle before it even hit showroom floors. Dior took it a step further, granting a virtual behind-the-scenes Fashion Week experience.

We can’t wait to see what other virtual experiences await as more people access to virtual reality. But one thing is sure: This technology is definitely not a passing fad.