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VR survey says US consumers are starting to believe the hype

Samsung and Playstation lead consumers' plans to buy virtual-reality headsets.

Playstation VR is among the headsets generating the most interest among people already inclined to explore virtual reality, according to a survey.
Sarah Tew/CNET

All the hype about virtual reality is starting to take root, according to a new survey about consumer interest in VR.

Among US consumers ages 8 to 64 years old, 42 percent said they were very or somewhat interested in virtual reality, according to a survey by researcher Magid Advisors.

Virtual reality is an immersive technology that uses headsets to put a viewer in the middle of the action. Giants like Facebook, Samsung and Google have been pouring investment into VR, making it one of the buzziest technologies this year. But the market for the headsets is in its infancy, raising uncertainty about whether mainstream consumers are buying in.

Magid Advisors

Magid's study found the new format "has grabbed many consumers' attention over the last few years," Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid, said in a statement.

Samsung and Playstation spark the most intent to purchase. Among consumers who say they're already somewhat interested in a VR experience, 29 percent say they plan to buy Samsung's $99 Gear VR in the next year, and 26 percent say they plan to buy Playstation's $399 headset, which went on sale today.

Movies pique more interest than games. The survey found nearly half of the people at least somewhat interested in VR said they'd like to check out movies in virtual reality, compared with 38 percent who listed console/PC gaming. Virtual travel came in third, with 35 percent mentioning it, followed by TV shows, music videos, sports and smartphone/tablet style games.

Social networking -- something Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed off on the company's Oculus Rift headset earlier this month its annual VR developers conference -- came in eighth. About a quarter of people listed it as something they'd like to try in virtual reality.

Magid's survey, which the company paid for itself, was conducted in late July and early August online with a sample of 2,400 US consumers ages 8-64 that matched the US census for key demographics. This sample represents approximately 200 million Americans, Magid said.