Editor’s Note: This post is contributed by Alvin Wang Graylin, a season tech entrepreneur having founded five venture-backed startups in the US and China. He has also operated multi-hundred million P&Ls for MNCs in China and across Asia. Alvin holds a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Washington, an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School and an MS in computer science from MIT. 

From the title of this article, you may think I’m a recent fanboy of the new virtual reality (VR) craze,  where users dawn goggles on their head to escape into a virtual world.  But in fact, I’m a jaded optimist,  who’s been waiting for VR to arrive to the mass market for over 20 years.  In 1992, when I was an  undergrad at the University of Washington, I was lucky enough to take courses and do research at the  first academic VR lab in the US, the HIT lab (Human Interface Technology lab), which grew out of R&D from the US military.  The goggles, sensors and interface models we used then looked and behaved  surprisingly similarly to what is starting to arrive to the consumer market in the last couple of years.

My research paper at the time had predicted VR would change the way we work, play and learn within  ten years.   I still believe VR will change the way we live, but I was off by a couple of decades.  I must  admit I had been more than a bit disillusioned at the slow pace of progress in this space, but in the last  year, I can see signs that VR is about to blossom.  All the required technology enablers are finally coming  together (cheap computing power, cheap sensors, cheap high‐resolution display, ubiquitous broadband,  robust rendering and physics engines, content provider adoption, etc.). In fact with Google’s Cardboard standard, a user with almost any modern smartphone can gain access to a simple Mobile VR experience  for under US$10.  In fact, last month, the New York Times sent out over a million of the Cardboard kits  to their readers for free with their Sunday paper so their readers can try out VR for the first time.

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