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VR is poised to make a dramatic debut among geeks and gamers but what about the rest of us?
As virtual reality entertainment systems make their way into American homes, some think it could change entertainment as most people know it. But does VR have staying power beyond technology enthusiasts and gamers? - photo by Chandra Johnson
As next generation, affordable virtual reality entertainment systems make their way into American homes this fall, some think it could change entertainment as most people know it.

Last summer, Time magazine's cover crowed that VR is poised to "change the world," and TechCrunch estimated that augmented and virtual reality systems could hit $150 billion in revenue by 2020.

This fall, more consumer-friendly VR systems are hitting the market, including Playstation VR, the Vuse VR camera and Google's Daydream headset. These, along with the already available Samsung VR, are set to be an average person's version of VR originators like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive headset, often considered too expensive for a casual user.

But aside from standing to revolutionize gaming, it's not yet clear what VR has in store for Americans who don't game and don't prefer to watch movies, read, listen to music or do any number of other activities with goggles strapped to their heads.

"It is a point on which may rest several billion dollars, as the emerging V.R. industry tries to move beyond 'gotta have it' tech geeks and hard-core gamers," New York Times tech blogger Quentin Hardy wrote.

Gaming journalist John Walker cautioned that VR will likely fail the way 3D TV did. At the end of the day, he argues, people won't be bowled over enough to change their lives or their entertainment habits to fully embrace VR.

"Until something comes along that genuinely improves the experience without limiting it (black and white TV to color TV, joysticks to console controllers, 2D graphics to 3D graphics), its doomed," Walker wrote. "Sorry about that."

In the meantime, Hardy wrote, what may keep VR alive long enough to become the status quo is its potential as an educational tool, which many other technologies like personal computers benefit from.

"The Apple computer took more than a decade to become a widespread consumer product," Hardy wrote. "For much of that time it survived thanks to the education market."