When Facebook bought Oculus last year in a deal valued at $2 billion, it touted virtual reality as the next major computing platform, allowing friends a means to visit one another no matter how far.
Oculus and Sony have already unabashedly courted video game makers, with virtual reality being a major theme at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June.
But the Disrupt conference took the technology a step beyond gaming, with startups such as VRChat, whose software lets people use Oculus Rift to get together in virtual worlds for conversations.
The software creates a playful universe with customizable avatars in a style reminiscent of Manga, a demonstration showed.
And the audience is small: VRChat chief technology officer Graham Gaylor claims about 600 active users.
The company's technology was used last year in one of the first university courses in virtual reality experiences in Canada.
Remi Rousseau, co-founder of two startups linked to virtual reality, said the technology was "full of social applications," allowing people to see real representations of one another, not just avatars.
He described the technology as a sort of "Skype 3D."
His Franco-Belgian company Mimesys is testing a device that allows two people equipped with headsets to get together at a table in a virtual meeting room.
Rousseau emphasized that virtual reality holds great promise for professional applications, from presenting complex car prototypes to helping with medical care.
His second startup, Surgevry, developed virtual reality camera gear that can be worn on surgeons' heads during operations.
Virtual reality video captured that way has already resulted in sales, mainly to medical equipment suppliers who use it to show the right way to use their products.
Real estate is also seen as fertile ground for virtual reality. Startup InsiteVR created an online service that lets architects or interior designers transport people into projects to see them from the inside.
The service is available on-demand or by subscription and has 30 customers, according to co-founder Angel Say.
InsiteVR charges about $200 for the virtual equivalent of a one-bedroom apartment, Say said.