Our addiction to screens isn’t anticipated to change anytime soon, but with the growth of virtual reality, how we relate to our screens is sure to.

The proof? Headset sales are booming. Over the holiday season, Facebook’s popular Oculus Quest virtual reality headset sold out and is now on a two-month back-order.

In other words, when it comes to virtual and augmented reality, the technology is ready and so are the users.

So, what exactly is virtual reality? 

Virtual reality is a type of technology that “shuts out the physical world,” creating a completely immersive experience in digitally created “real world” or imagined environments. 

[Support the data that’s making Virtual Reality possible. Here’s what investors need to know about Big Data]

This is slightly different from augmented reality, which adds digital elements to our real-life view. Think of Pokémon Go, for example, which digitally plants Pokémon characters around real-life cities and towns for players to physically go and find. That’s augmented reality.

What Can Virtual Reality Do?

Both virtual reality and augmented reality are changing the ways that almost all industries deliver goods and services to consumers.

First, and maybe first to come to mind for most people, is virtual reality’s place in the gaming world. The video gaming industry is anticipated to grow to as large as a $300 billion industry by 2025. Virtual reality will no doubt help to stimulate that growth, transforming the gaming world by dramatically changing the dynamics of how players relate to their games.

After all, games are no longer built like the old Nintendo or Atari platforms. New games allow players to be real participants in the action, and virtual reality is just the next step in this direction.

For instance, the much anticipated virtual reality game, Half Life: Alyx, is set to release a sequel more than a decade after its first iteration. Other highly anticipated virtual reality video game releases include The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, The Walking Dead Onslaught, and Iron Man. These games have a ready market and mountains of consumers that have or have yet to order their headsets.

Virtual reality and gaming, yes. But what about virtual reality and spas? Yes, it’s a thing. 

The Four Seasons Resort in Oahu is now offering the world’s first multisensory virtual reality and wellness experience in what it calls the Vessel. And, it’s not alone. Spas across the U.S. now offer similar experiences in a device known as the Somodome, a self-contained meditation pod.

Virtual reality is challenging companies to reimagine how they engage consumers of all kinds. This includes retail, even though online shopping seems to be doing just fine without it. Consider virtual reality shopping. Soon you may be sipping coffee and exploring the various kitchen options from the comfort of your couch thanks to Ikea’s Virtual Reality Showroom.

Beyond consumer goods and services, virtual reality has huge potential to improve training for higher education and corporate entities alike. Walmart is on board, training employees with virtual reality programs that offer new hires the opportunity to experience specific customer situations. The military is also using virtual reality for training purposes, and even the Denver Broncos football team is using virtual reality as a tool for training new and injured players (quarterbacks specifically).

The technology also has the potential to be used for highly sophisticated simulations in the healthcare field. Emmanuel Hospice, a non-profit hospice company, offers patients the ability to leave their rooms with virtual reality-based therapy. Using the technology, one patient went on a virtual trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, and another to Ireland.

The possibilities are endless and virtual reality technology is everywhere. 

Why Invest in Virtual Reality

With all of these different applications, it should come as no surprise that the VR industry is set to grow rapidly. The global virtual reality market is anticipated to reach $120.5 billion by 2026, a dramatic increase from $7.3 billion in 2018. 

And, the market is ripe for investment. As the technology advances, virtual reality is expected to play an increasing role in training and education, entertainment, retail, healthcare, and more.

Not only is the technology required for virtual reality improving, but the costs associated with it are decreasing. Quality virtual reality experiences require both a headset and a powerful graphics card. These two elements have big-name companies like Sony, Samsung, and Facebook, as well as lesser-known companies, competing for market share in each. As virtual reality becomes increasingly mainstream, these companies are poised to benefit. 

Beyond these two primary technology elements, virtual reality is also primed to create new investment opportunities in the industries that adopt it. Whether it’s the next big game, the next big hospital training platform, or something we have yet to imagine, industry-specific virtual reality solutions are sure to create a buzz and further stimulate consumer adoption.

When it comes to virtual reality, opportunity abounds. You can invest in the technology itself, or the products, services, and solutions that it delivers. 

How to Invest in Virtual Reality

Of course, virtual and augmented reality are high-growth, high-volatility sectors, meaning that they can make for risky investments when bought directly. Rather, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from virtual reality innovation via mutual funds and ETFs that cover this fast-growing sector.

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