Let’s Get Real: Virtual Reality is Here To Stay, by Amy Brown

Remember when taking a field trip involved packing a sack lunch, getting on a school bus with the entire third grade and riding to the nearest museum? It was an all-day experience that involved sightseeing, but only in fairly close proximity to your school building.

Kids today are rocketing off to Mars and exploring the pyramids in Egypt. With the blink of their eyes, they’re studying the Great Barrier Reef up close, or checking out U.S. landmarks we once only read about in textbooks or saw during summer vacations.

Virtual reality is expanding these kids’ horizons. Imagine a child in rural Georgia being able to travel to the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world at 2,722 feet.

VR Engages Students’ Imaginations

Experts say virtual reality will revolutionize education. What once was the stuff of heavy, dusty textbooks can come alive in a child’s imagination, thanks to several companies that have invested in the technology and schools that have latched on to it.

As a former literacy and curriculum specialist, I am all for promoting reading on a variety of topics. While reading, you can imagine the world outside your day-to-day lives. Now, with VR, you can follow up your imaginings with a virtual trip to the place you just read about. You can see it for yourself.

Forecasters say that there will be five million Gear VR devices sold this year. Pair that with Google’s announcement that it has installed 5 million Cardboard VR viewers globally, and you get an idea of how pervasive VR is becoming. Facebook got in on the game by paying $2 billion for Oculus VR in 2014.

According to experts, 2016 is the year that VR will take off more intensely. The market is expected to grow to a $15.9 billion industry by 2019. By 2020, analysts from leading global bank Citi anticipate the market for hardware, networks, software and content will reach $200 billion.

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