Re: I can think of a decent list of useful applications for VR/AR
Then you're not thinking hard enough.
Regardless of how you think software development works, outside of dedicated applications such as games, you need OS support first.
Last year I was saying that self driving cars would be here within 10 years - to most people claiming that I was being ridiculous. And yet Ford announced a few days ago they're bringing one to market by 2021. I'm sure Apple, Google, and other manufacturers are looking at similar time scales. It will happen by 2025.
So, let's have another prediction:
Within 20 years (to be honest, I think it'll happen a lot sooner, but let's say 20 years to be on the safe side), either digital contact lenses, or optical implants will replace the clunky VR/AR headsets of today. Your perception of the world will be permanently enhanced. Applications you are running will be projected onto available surfaces in the world around you, or directly in front of your vision when 'at work'. On the bus, the back of the seat in front of you will become your web browser, while the window next to you will have floating conversations with your friends available - or maybe a local news station or music video. A virtual keyboard will appear under your hands for you to type on. As you turn your head, these 'windows' will remain rooted to the surface they're 'on', or if you're not sat down, they will pop from surface to surface or float in your peripheral vision.
People like you will probably hate this. You won't see the attraction of always having information in your face. Or being able to watch a movie without a screen. (In fact, stop considering movies as two dimensional projections - fully immersive 3D movies are coming - part of my new job starting next month will be working with that sort of tech. ;)
The next generation, however, will consider this normal, and won't even be able to comprehend how old fuddy-duddy-30-somethings managed to live without it. Forget trying to convince your grandparents about it.
As for me? Bring it on, I say. The future can't come fast enough. :)