Samsung to launch virtual reality headset Gear VR, bringing it to the mass market with the hype that we haven’t seen since the Virual Boy — however, this time, hopefully, more efficiently. Gear VR works in conjunction with smartphone Galaxy Note 4, bringing the Note display to create the illusion of presence. The company has cautiously positioned the device as Innovator Edition, as to imply that technically it is a beta product.
Even so, to date, this headset is the most friendly to the user, and, as noted by Vice President of Samsung’s virtual reality Nick Di Carlo, “we are carefully trying to avoid the hype, but I think it’ll be great.”
Gear VR was created in partnership with Oculus, which has sold more than 100,000 of its own Rift headset prototypes and calls his symbiotic relationship with Samsung. The second generation Rift uses the same screen as a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Gear VR includes a sensor tracking the first generation of the developer kit Rift. For the most part, the Gear VR uses many functions from the Arsenal of the Oculus Rift, at launch users will be able to play almost all the same games.
“There are some people who do mobile part, several personal computers, but a big part of what we do is suitable for both platforms, — said the head of the mobile division Oculus Max Cohen. — These two projects are more similar than different”.
However, if the Rift is connected via wires and was conceived as a powerful gaming accessory, the Gear VR is purely mobile headset oriented to casual users.
“If virtual reality will be used only for games, it will be a great and powerful business, says Di Carlo. But we also hope that virtual reality will evolve over time and will allow people to do very different things.”
While the entire user experience of Gear VR will be free. According to Cohen, the reason for this is that the Oculus platform is not ready for sales as of Dec. The developers hope to be able to sell the game in early 2015.
Although the development of the Gear VR is aimed at a broad audience at its core, this headset is not for everyone. First, it only works with one phone model. Second, it costs 200 $ 50 worth to pay for the supplied gamepad from Samsung, which, as Cohen says, “is enough to get a good experience.” The headset has a simple control system, but some games just impossible to play without a gamepad. Di Carlo says that it is too early to discuss in more expensive or cheaper options headset, given the state of technology. Cohen, by contrast, has a clear vision:
“I think the ideal price for Gear VR is zero, he says. — If it will require the presence of the phone or it can be maintained through the sale of content, we want it to cost most cheaply”.
Once Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said the same thing about the Rift itself, which currently costs $ 350 and has no date of start of official sales. Now Oculus sees two ways: a truly “powerful and incredible” Rift and inexpensive portable headset. A number of companies besides Samsung have presented their cases, from cheap cardboard Dodocase to light and Pinc Zeiss VR One for $ 99. Cohen says that it is not against the competition — although I would not call her that.
“We look at them not as competitors, because while not competing with anyone in sales. We are trying to put in a good word for virtual reality. We don’t want bad virtual reality became popular, it would deprive the people with the best experience.”
Unfortunately, even “good virtual reality” from Samsung and Oculus has its limitations. Note 4 provides a screen with a higher resolution than the Oculus Rift (1280 x 1440 pixels per eye), but it is still not enough for reading small text or use the headset to replace an ordinary personal computer. And both companies recognize that the controller is not the best way to interact with the headset. Cohen and Di Carlo spoke well about the motion control with the Leap Motion or Sixense Stem, both of which can be used with Gear VR.
“While things are not really ready for release to the General public, but in five years, I think it will look very different,” says Cohen.
A few months ago, neither Oculus nor Samsung would not say a word about the future of their projects after the Innovator Edition. Now the future seems very bright. Gear VR sold on the websites of Samsung and AT&T, and Di Carlo said that in the near future it will also appear in the stores like brick-and-mortar. Oculus Home will also be available to Gear VR users.
“We have no plans to release Gear VR 12 or something like that for five years starting today, but Gear VR is not an experiment. This is an important part of the future of our company.”
And if Oculus maintains a close relationship with the game developers, film studios, manufacturers of computer peripherals, the company will definitely not work with another manufacturer of phones over another mobile headset. I’m sure Oculus in partnership with Samsung, and other plans for her yet.