Commercially, virtual reality (VR) has been a dud. So far, the high-tech gear needed to give the illusion of being part of a computer-generated world has been prohibitively expensive--unless you are a fighter pilot or work for a large design corporation.
Now comes VR for the masses. VictorMaxx Technologies Inc. in Deerfield, Ill., is about to release CyberMaxx, a head-mounted VR display for consumers. Like professional units, CyberMaxx places two small, flat-panel liquid-crystal displays up close to each eye and, by displaying two slightly different images, creates the illusion of depth. VictorMaxx has several distributors, including Hammacher, Schlemmer & Co., lined up for the $800 units. CyberMaxx also works with any television set or VCR, so it isn't limited just to computer simulations: One software developer is working on a system to entertain, or at least distract, patients in the dentist's chair.
EDITED BY AMY CORTESE