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January 9, 2016

John Vomhof Jr.Staff Writer

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You don’t need a high-tech headset to see that 2016 will be the year that virtual reality (VR) goes mainstream.

The technology — which allows users to immerse themselves in lifelike locales, such as a packed concert or the depths of the ocean — has a major presence at CES 2016 this week. There are more than 40 exhibitors in the show’s Gaming & Virtual Reality Marketplace, which is 77 percent larger than a year ago.

Virtual reality first became available to consumers last year with the Samsung Gear VR (yes, Best Buy already has it). The Consumer Technology Association (CTS), the organization that runs CES, estimates that virtual reality headset sales will increase 500 percent to 1.2 million units in 2016. Total revenue in 2016, according to CTS, could increase to more than $500 million.

[callout] Check out virtual reality now at Best Buy. [/callout]The displays at CES 2016 include the highly anticipated Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. All three are expected to be available to consumers this year. Gaming will be a major focus for these new devices, but they also hold great potential for other applications, including movies, sports and education.

Twentieth Century Fox unveiled a VR experience based on the movie “The Martian.” The New York Times is using the technology in storytelling and advertising. Football teams are using headsets to help their players prepare for game situations. Real estate agents and museums even use VR for tours.

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Unlike the smartphone-based Samsung Gear VR, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets will require the graphics and processing capabilities of a high-powered computer. Sony’s PlayStation VR will work in conjunction with the PlayStation 4.

Check back for more coverage of CES 2016 and sign up for Best Buy emails to stay on top of the latest tech trends and today’s hottest deals.

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