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Samsung enters the virtual reality race with the Gear VR

Samsung enters the virtual reality race with the Gear VR

September 3, 2014 | By Mike Rose

September 3, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing

As part of its Unpacked conference, Samsung today revealed the Samsung Gear VR -- a new virtual reality headset that utilizes the newly-announced Galaxy Note 4 smartphone.

The Gear VR is a device that you can strap a Galaxy Note 4 smartphone into, and then strap to your head. The Galaxy Note 4 screen acts as your VR screen, and essentially turns the phone into a VR device.

The device has an accelerometer and a gyrometer for tracking head movement, and is due to launch later this year.

Interestingly, Samsung is working in partnership with Oculus to create the device - Samsung has been handling the hardware side of it, while Oculus is working on the software.

Well-known programmer John Carmack, formerly of id Software and currently of Oculus, took the stage, explaining the partnership between Oculus and Samsung. "Samsung's gotten us very low-level access to the platform here," says Carmack, which has allowed Oculus to help optimize the VR experience.

Oculus says that it has been collaborating with Samsung for the last 12 months, and that the initial release of the device will be called the "Innovator Edition" - it will be an early-access beta version available to developers and enthusiasts.

Oculus notes that the Gear VR is powered by the new Oculus Mobile SDK, and "also uses variations of the Oculus Tracker and firmware built into the headset for extremely accurate, ultra low-latency 3DOF tracking."

Of course, Oculus has been working on its own VR device, although Gear VR will actually be the company's first consumer project. Sony is also working on its own device, Project Morpheus.

"We want to emphasize that the mobile project doesn't change our plans for the Rift or our commitment to (and love for) the PC," notes Oculus. "We’ll continue to push the boundaries of performance and presence on the Rift for PC, while making VR available to the widest audience possible entrance at the lowest barrier to entry by leveraging the strengths of mobile as a platform."

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