LONDON: The speed at which virtual reality is moving towards the mainstream is gathering pace, as media owners, tech firms  and venture capitalists step up their interest in this area.

Google yesterday introduced its Daydream View VR headset, a step up from Google Cardboard, which will retail at $79. 

More generally, some $500m was invested in AR and VR start-ups in the third quarter of the year, according to tech advisor Digi-Capital, with most of this money coming from mainstream VCs (65%) and corporate investors (21%).

Much of this money is going into hardware such as VR and AR head-mounted displays, Venturebeat reported, but other areas, including solutions/services, video and peripherals are also benefiting, and, to a lesser extent, games, advertising and applications.

In the UK, broadcaster Sky and publisher Guardian News & Media have announced new VR developments.

The Guardian has established an in-house VR team that will, initially, focus on adding "an extra dimension to storytelling in journalism" but which will also work with brands to harness the technology, The Drum reported.

"As more people gain access to virtual reality, it becomes more important for media owners and advertisers to invest in their own presence on the platform and bring their brand to life," said Adam Foley, commercial strategy director.

Meanwhile, at the start of this week, Sky launched a VR app – which can be used on a smartphone in conjunction with a Google cardboard headset or with VR headsets such as Samsung Gear and Oculus Rift – that gives viewers a 360-degree video experience, with more immersive features promised for later versions.

Earlier this year, the broadcaster set up the Sky VR Studio to create suitable content – a significant step as the material currently available has been limited to games and some film and product promotions.

Gary Davey, managing director for content at Sky, acknowledged "the creative challenge of deploying this immersive experience with engaging story-telling". But Sky's content partnerships with popular brands, shows and sports gives it an edge over the competition.

"A broadcaster the size of Sky jumping on board feels like a turning point," the Guardian noted.

Data sourced from Venturebeat, The Drum, The Guardian; additional content by Warc staff