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The Oculus Rift headset is tested by attendees at the Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court in London.

In August of 2012, Oculus Rift launched a Kickstarter to create “the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games.” The campaign raised over $2 million before Facebook acquired the Rift’s production for $2 billion in March of 2014.

Although many Rift followers look forward to the revolution VR will surely bring to the world of gaming, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook sees more far-reaching potential for the other-worldly goggles:

“This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

And he is not alone in his prediction. Samsung, Sony, Microsoft and Google have also come to appreciate the industry-disrupting potential of virtual reality technology. Together with Oculus Rift, the tech powerhouses make up the five major contenders in a race to the top of the VR market. For those of you wondering who’s winning, here’s some information about their emerging products:

The Oculus Rift

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Widely acknowledged as the VR industry leader, the Oculus Rift will be ready for your living room in Q1 of 2016. Although exact prices have not yet been disclosed, Oculus VP Nate Mitchell has promised to keep the Rift priced in the same neighborhood as any other new gaming console.

One major concern for gamers is the heavy-duty processing power necessary to truly experience the Rift’s virtual worlds. Accordingly, Oculus will be releasing fully functional PCs made specifically to handle the hardcore computing, which have been priced somewhere under $1000.

The Gear VR

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Priced at a mere $99, Samsung’s Gear VR promises to make virtual reality attainable to most, even those outside circles of well-to-do tech enthusiasts. However, some loyalty to the Samsung brand is necessary- the Gear VR will be created specifically for use with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6, S6 Edge or S6 Edge+. In order for the device to work, one of those phone models needs to be placed into a compartment at the front of the headset.

The Gear VR represents a push towards mobile-based VR that has covered a fair amount of ground over the past few years. Although it is not quite as involved as the Rift, Samsung has built up a loyal following with this more accessible device since it hit the market in 2014. A new model of the Gear VR is currently in production.

Google Cardboard

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In terms of bringing VR to the people, Google takes the cake. This virtual reality headset is part cut-and-fold cardboard and part Android, allowing anyone with a Droid and a box cutter to gain access to Google’s virtual world. Even the cardboard headset design has been democratized- various designs submitted by Google engineers and regular users are available through Google for free.

 

The New York Times has made plans to send these devices out to more than 1 million of its print subscribers. These subscribers will then be able to access news videos shot specifically for Google Cardboard, making this November an inaugurating month for VR journalism.

The PlayStation VR

 

No longer known as Project Morpheus, Sony’s PlayStation VR is one of the few close-to-market products that threaten to give the Rift a run for its money in terms of the quality of the virtual reality experience that it produces. Console gamers have described Sony’s model as “more polished,” though apparently the headset is so heavy that a mere 15 minutes of play can result in sore neck muscles and headaches.

Issues aside, Sony’s ability to create its own gaming content along with its established fan base make it a worthy opponent in the VR race.

Microsoft HoloLens

hololens

Microsoft has taken a unique approach to VR, opting for “augmenting reality” rather than transporting its customers to a completely different world. The HoloLens device allows for VR images to be projected into actual surroundings, so the viewer can see fantasy creatures fly over a row of office cubicles or examine an entire spinning solar system in the center of a classroom.

The HoloLens has awed reviewers with its realistic effects and promises to have a wide range of uses outside of just gaming. However, production of the device has proven complicated and the HoloLens is expected to be released behind schedule.