Nayeon Kim is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
On March 29, the long-awaited Oculus Rift became available to the general public for purchase.  Although the virtual reality headset doesn’t seem to be ready to dominate the market just yet, this release clearly marks a big leap in the technology behind virtual reality in that a high-resolution fully-immersive virtual reality headset was actually made as a product and released to the world. The more significant thing is that Oculus Rift is not simply an interesting gadget introduced without context; it represents a beginning of the budding virtual reality hardware and software industry. This means that many other companies including Sony and HTC are also trying to develop virtual reality headsets and software.
Virtual reality is clearly a hot topic right now, but what does it have to do with law? The most obvious relationship would be that virtual environments can be used to facilitate real crimes, such as people using computers to steal sensitive personal information. Although these issues need to be addressed further, the more interesting issue is about crimes committed within the virtual space without any intent of causing harm in the real world. Most of the virtual reality headsets coming out today aim to fully immerse their users into a completely new but realistic universe. If a virtual environment is very realistic, a range of crimes happening in the real world can also happen in the virtual world. For example, someone may steal something valuable in a virtual world. Or a criminal may bomb a house in a virtual world and cause virtual damage to its residents. The more a virtual world feels like reality, the more crimes can happen in the virtual world.