From Digital Trends’ Nick Mokey: In 1999, The Matrix introduced your neighbor, your dad, and pretty much every hacky-sacking college kid in the country to the idea that the real world around us … might not be so real. In the film, our trenchcoated protagonist Neo discovers that the world as he knows it is only an illusion, piped into his brain while his body sits submerged in a gooey chemical broth. Trippy.

The idea that we are not really here at all — that life is just an illusion – is as old as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. But The Matrix had that special sauce that made this mind-bending concept palatable to high schoolers shuffling around in JNCO jeans: guns, Keanu Reeves, and a soundtrack anchored by Rage Against the Machine. “Entering the Matrix” became pop-culture shorthand for the notion that technology could eventually deliver us from our mind-numbing reality and allow us to live in a faux universe of our own creation.

Want to learn kung fu in seconds? Freeze time? Drop bullets with a wave of your hand? Just take the red pill.

A kid born in 1999 is just now old enough to rent the R-rated Matrix — or more likely, stream it. Yet in those intervening 17 years, entering the Matrix has gone from a dystopian sci-fi dream to a waking reality. These days, a pair of $800 goggles can convince you to duck as dinosaurs shamble over you, drop the pit of your stomach as you peer off the ledge of an artificial skyscraper, and make you puke — in real life — after one too many loops in a computer-generated space fighter.

And yup, you can freeze time and stop bullets, too.

As a society, we are glimpsing into the Matrix, and we like it. How did we get here, and what’s next? Here’s where VR came from, how it finally delivered after decades of failed promises, and how it’s going to utterly reshape our world in the next 10 years.

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