Samsung Gear VR will be commercially available by the end of November, just in time for Black Friday, and it will retail at the affordable price of $99. The innovative product, which has the potential to become the most popular gift item of the year, was unveiled on Thursday, at the Oculus Connect developer conference in Los Angeles.
The device marks the result of a partnership between the South Korean tech giant and Oculus, a virtual reality (VR) technology company which was recently acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.
Gear VR represents a consumer version of Oculus Rift, a VR head-mounted display, and company representatives believe it will bring “virtual reality into the mainstream”.
The headset, which can be used on a broader palette of Android handsets, is an improvement of an earlier version, which was released in Septmber 2014, but was compatible solely with Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
The upcoming device is fully functional when used on Samsung’s flagship smartphones released in 2015, such as Galaxy Note 5, S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus. On the other hand however, it is no longer supported on Note 4 gadgets.
According to Peter Koo, Samsung’s Senior Vice President, the new Gear VR has superior portability, being approximately 22% lighter than its predecessor, and can be used more comfortably for extended periods of time. In addition, arcade game aficionados are in for a treat, because Oculus developers have incorporated a new feature allowing classic games to be played in a more immersive manner.
The headset’s touch pad has a fresh design which improves responsiveness and precision, and the gadget can now support multiple handsets. The device is available in “Frost White” color option, but there is no integrated display, just like in the earlier version. As a result, customers have to connect their smartphones via Micro USB to use them as displays.
The device also includes a series of eye-catching features, such as Facebook’s new 360-degree videos, as well as movies and Minecraft games. Media streaming company Netflix will launch an app for this headset, and 20th Century Fox is bringing more than 100 movies to Oculus Video. It is expected that apps for Vimeo, Twitch and Hulu will also be incorporated soon.
Gear VR is aimed to target mass market, and Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe predicts mobile VR has the potential to reach millions of users. This opinion is shared by Samsung representatives, who consider this new release as part of their mission to deliver ground-breaking mobile experiences.
“We see virtual reality as the next computing platform, and we are thrilled to partner with Oculus on Gear VR to set the standard for mobile VR and bring this revolutionary product to consumers”, declared JK Shin, CEO and President of IT & Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics.
Meanwhile, the VR company has also unveiled Oculus Touch, which provides tactile feedback, while the user is submerged into the virtual environment. However, this feature won’t be included in the Oculus Rift package, which will be released in the first quarter of 2016.
Image Source: Samsung