Samsung is working with Oculus, a start-up Facebook recently purchased, to create virtual reality headsets that users can pair with the company’s phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5.
A new report from Engadget is shedding more light on the plans Samsung has for this virtual reality headset for its Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets.
According to that report, the two companies are splitting the workload for the upcoming headset. Oculus, is in charge of the software while Samsung is preparing the hardware that Galaxy S5 owners will wear on their heads. Allegedly, the two have entered into this mutually beneficial partnership because Samsung isn’t interested in dropping a lot of research and development money into creating a VR headset despite it wanting to be first to the market with a compelling product.
Unlike the Oculus Rift or Sony’s Project Morepheus headset, the headset that Samsung is developing with Facebook’s Oculus division won’t have a screen built into it. Instead, the user’s actual smartphone will slide into a slot on the headset and act as the screen. This is big for two reasons.
First, it means that Samsung won’t be repeating the mistakes of the past and trying to convince users that what amounts to a smartphone accessory is worth hundreds of dollars like it did with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Second, depending on the design it will make Galaxy S5 users look even more ridiculous while using the headsets than even the rather bulbous Oculus Rift does today. Users will plug their Galaxy S5 into the headset with a cable. The Samsung VR headset will have its own set of sensors, but the device itself will do all of the processing, again saving Samsung on the cost of making the device.
Even more interesting than these unorthodox hardware choices are the experiences Samsung hopes will convince users to pick one of these devices up. Allegedly, the Samsung VR headset for its Galaxy smartphones will also be positioned as a media experience. That is, Samsung will presumably partner up with content distributors and app makers to create video experiences too. Details on what these experiences are exactly remains elusive. Reportedly, there are also games for the Samsung VR headset already in production. We don’t yet know what any of those are but one could imagine racing games like Asphalt 8 would translate well in the scenario today’s report describes.
As far as Oculus is concerned, the deal nets them access to the hardware components they need to continue building gaming focused headsets like the Oculus Rift headset it’s been showing off since its days as a Kickstarter crowd-funded project.
Reports early this month, which were also from Engadget, indicated that Samsung would position this device as way to enhance the Galaxy S5’s a gaming experience. That much is backed up here. This report indicates that users will be able to pair the Samsung VR headset and their smartphone with a gaming controller to make the experience feel as realistic as possible.
With two reports in two weeks revealing details about the project, it’s clear that Samsung is preparing to dive right into the virtual reality headset business. Just like wearables, VR headsets aren’t something that most users care about today, or are even talking much about. Instead, it’s just a business that a few players, Sony and now Samsung, are betting will usher in a new era of interactivity for gamers. Sony only announced Project Morpheus, its VR headset this year. It’s currently in the prototype stage. We don’t yet know how much it will cost users.
Engadget says that Samsung’s VR headset could launch as an accessory to the Galaxy S5 or its successor. We don’t yet know how much the device will cost Samsung users when it eventually does arrive.