2014: The Virtual Reality Renaissance

The Renaissance, which comes from an Italian word that means "to be reborn," is an apt analogy for the current state of virtual reality (VR). VR is not a new invention, but recent advances in technology, reductions in cost, and increased consumer and investor interest have combined to make the perfect environment for a VR Renaissance.

Technology

Smartphones paved the way for VR. Because of the popularity of smartphones, we have made huge advancements in displays, mobile CPU/GPUs, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and cameras. Complimentary technologies such as computer vision,motion sensingeye tracking3D imaging, and 360-degree video also progressed in 2014, bringing VR that much closer to reality.

Cost

While not all of VR technology is new, only high-paying customers such as the government, manufacturers, and developers could afford to use it. However, with the cost of core technology like transistors and dynamic RAM quickly falling, what was once relegated to an elite customer base will be affordable for the masses.

Interest

Better, cheaper technology does not mean anything if no one wants to use it. Luckily, consumers and investors alike showed they were serious about VR in 2014.Developers waited for months to get their own DK2, and over half a million people picked up a Google Cardboard or DODOCase. Investors followed suit with more than fifty VCs invested in VR startups, lead by Google Ventures (Magic LeapJaunt,AltspaceVR) and Andreessen Horowitz (Magic Leap, Oculus). Big companies have also taken an interest in VR. Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billionSamsung launched Gear VRSony is working on MorpheusApple teased with a VR job posting; and Microsoft is rumored to be working on it's own VR projects.

VR will never be as bad as it is today, which is pretty exciting when you look at how good it already is. With technology advancing, costs decreasing, and sustained interest, VR has a promising future.