Virtual reality is something we’ve all heard about over the years, but it hasn’t quite found its place in the market yet. 2016 will, no doubt, be the year that changes. We’ve got a handful of products about to be released: PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and most noticeably the [Oculus Rift](https://www.oculus.com/en-us/rift/). I’m sure there will be some kinks to work out at launch, but over time, these products are going to bring VR into the mainstream.
Now the real questions emerge: Why is there so much hype around virtual reality? Is it really going to be a game-changer? Well, for some that may be a “no.” But for many others, it’s a resounding “yes.” Personally, I feel like it’s going to be similar to the launch of the iPad. Many people [underestimated it at first](http://ustandout.com/technology/ipad-useless), but now, nearly six years later it has completely changed the way many people manage their businesses.
Video games are the most notable application for VR. It’s what most people first think of when you say “virtual reality”. And yes, games in VR are going to be amazing. There isn’t anything as immersive as being transported into a different world that you get to control ([Take this as proof](https://youtu.be/mYvewljW7Lg?t=6m)). But there are many other applications for VR, and marketers should take note.
For instance, Merrell created a [unique experience](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efd6WhPmTyU) at Sundance to promote their new line of shoes. Users put on a pair of shoes and a VR headset, and went on a “virtual hike.” They built a set to match the virtual world, so users really felt like they were crossing a bridge, or scaling a mountaintop. Another great example of using VR in marketing comes from Patron. They created a [virtual tour](http://www.patrontequila.com/our-story/oculus.html) of a distillery to give viewers a tour of their process of handcrafting tequila.
Another industry that will be greatly affected by VR is [healthcare](http://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-ways-virtual-reality-is-revolutionizing-medicine-and-healthcare/). Patients with PTSD can use simulations of warfare to help them learn to deal with triggers, or a child with cerebral palsy can take his wheelchair through a grassy field. There are countless opportunities here to simulate an environment without ever leaving the room.
Virtual reality is going to be big in 2016, but will it live up to the hype? I’m pretty confident it will, but only time will tell. I can tell you one thing: Once the prices drop (and I get over how dumb I look wearing one), I’ll be picking up a VR headset.