Virtual reality and the connected car are two of the biggest tech trends investors are paying attention to these days. But hidden under the hood is a third trend that, it turns out, is a very important component of the first two.
 
Just remember that in nearly any industry you can think of, whoever owns the data also owns a competitive advantage.
 
Vehicles that connect to the cloud in some manner are already sending out a vast amount of valuable data, and that will only grow exponentially as we move deeper into the self-driving era. There is speculation that the ability to collect data is one of the big reasons we're hearing about Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) interest in the auto world and the long-rumored "Apple Car."
 
Virtual reality headsets can also collect and transmit data, and that may go a long way toward explaining why Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) bought Oculus, and why HTC (NASDAQOTH:HTCKF) and Sony (NYSE:SNE) have each developed their own VR platforms. 
 
Motley Fool analysts A.J. Tiarsmith and Rex Moore were able to chat with industry experts about VR, cars, and data at the recent CE Week conference in New York City. For more details, check out the video below.