Want to travel to an alien world? See what it is like to walk next to a T. Rex? For more than

twenty years the idea that virtual worlds and ideas could be created and viewed by individuals has

fueled imaginations. Yet the reality has been that the optics and computer capacity (and speed) has

confined its applications to large research projects at universities or national labs. But no more!

Several companies are providing tools for the average person—Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR

and Google Cardboard just to name a few that are ushering in a new wave of creativity for gamers,

amateur film makers and educators. These same tools can be used to step out of a totally virtual

(imagined) world to an augmented world that uses real settings. New inexpensive 360 degree cameras

allow for a total immersive experience. Extreme sporting activities like parasailing, rough terrain

mountain biking and skiing, dog fights with jet aircraft (think of the opening scenes in many James Bond

movies!) and suddenly consumers are transported into the action as a virtual participant. Like virtual

reality, augmented reality has unlimited potential for education and training—a great teacher can get

students to understand a particular battle during the Civil War, but why not let them experience it as a

virtual participant via the numerous real live recreations done each year?

Computers were once only available for use by universities and national laboratories but when

the personal computer finally arrived in the early 1980’s and individuals could then use their imagination

and the power of a computer, we were rapidly moved into the computer age. Virtual and augmented

reality have now entered the personal world and the results will be similar—get ready for the virtual age

where absolutely anything that can be imagined will be and people can be part of it as a participant.