Virtual reality, a long-promised but never fully realized technology, is on its way. In 2015 consumers will be able to purchase headsets that create realistic 3-D worlds from such companies as Samsung and Oculus VR, the startup that Facebook bought for $2 billion in July. Sony is working on a system that hooks up to its PlayStation console. “This was the year where it all started to really work,” explains Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe, who says the Facebook deal has helped Oculus hire the industry’s best talent and open a research lab experimenting with virtual reality. The question now: Will there be enough content? Games are a given, but for the headsets to reach a wider audience, they will need to be able to play movies and stream sports events, for instance.
This appears in the December 29, 2014 issue of TIME.