Why is virtual reality FIGHT

Will the future wear diving goggles? 2016 will be the year in which millions of people will immerse themselves in virtual reality (VR) for the first time with the help of monstrous-looking digital glasses. And the technology industry is convinced that the devices will finally become socially acceptable despite their aesthetics that take getting used to.

The technology is still in its early stages. Anyone who puts on a helmet or puts their smartphone in a glasses holder does not yet feel like they are in simulated reality as we know it from science fiction scenarios such as the holodeck of "Star Trek". And yet the wow effect is already there when the wearer suddenly sits on the beach or seems to float weightlessly through the depths of a virtual ocean and can observe animated fish above, below, behind and next to him.

Meetings could become superfluous

All of this is far from perfect, but the promise of a previously unknown closeness and immediacy distinguishes VR from known media such as televisions and smartphones - and inspires the imagination. "Tele-presence will take on a whole new meaning," enthuses Hao Li of the University of California. Meetings in virtual space move video chats into the third dimension and thus close the last gap that still exists between people in the networked world.

The fact that Facebook secured VR start-up Oculus for two billion US dollars in spring 2014 is a bet on this future that could also change business life: long and strenuous trips to meetings could theoretically be superfluous. Even attending educational institutions would no longer depend on the physical distance. And real-time video technologies such as Periscope, which are only just beginning to take off, can make it possible to be present at any point on earth where the Internet bandwidth is sufficient, as hardware prices fall.

Companies compete for the new customer group

This new technology is the still unsettled world that a number of high-tech giants are currently fighting for: They want to become the platform for artificial reality and have therefore announced hardware for the coming months: After Samsung's smartphone holder Gear VR, the Facebook Daughter Oculus will bring a full-fledged headset ("Rift") onto the market in the spring, which, however, requires a powerful PC. The same applies to the competing product Vive, which the game studio Valve is working on together with the ailing hardware manufacturer HTC. Sony is also expanding its Playstation console with a VR helmet, plus the already available cheap Google Cardboard solution, which allows the first mini insights into the reality of the future, and the open VR operating system OSVR, which is used by the gaming hardware Producer Razer is supported.