Samsung and HTC are battling for more than just dominance of the high-end smartphone space. With an updated Gear VR headset Samsung is hoping to turn the one-off device it unveiled with the Galaxy Note 4 into something relevant. Meanwhile HTC and Valve are teaming up for the HTC Vive, a new entry in the virtual reality headset space that both companies are hoping takes off.
Of the two companies, Samsung has been in the virtual reality space the longest. That’s why it was important that the company announce some kind of movement in the VR headset space. The new headset is called the Galaxy Gear VR Innovator Edition and it’s powered by the same Oculus technology as the last version.
For $199, Samsung is hoping that Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge users will want to watch videos and more through the headset. Like its predecessor, the Gear VR, the Gear VR Innovator Edition doesn’t have a screen of its own. Instead, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge buyers slide their devices into it. Samsung is promising longer battery life and more comfort for buyers. A 15% reduction in size will take some of the burden off a user’s neck as they wear the Gear VR Innovator Edition.
Samsung says it’ll make its Gear VR content available to users through the Oculus Store too. It’s also promising “a selection of optimized, localized virtual reality content from top-tier creators.” Allegedly, this content will include virtual reality games, which is the point of purchasing a VR headset in the first place. The Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition is available from Samsung’s website right now.
The HTC Vive is all about pushing the boundaries of VR headsets. The HTC Vive will use a mix of sensors and controllers to give users the felling that they are inside “worlds.” Valve and HTC are focusing on performance and content with HTC Vive. The companies are working with Google, HBO and the production house Lionsgate to add content to the Vive’s library. Additionally, the HTC Vive will be capable of producing videos that update 90 times per second. That’s along way of saying HTC and Valve are promising ridiculously smooth video with the HTC Vive.
HTC isn’t releasing a version of the HTC Vive that users can purchase until later this year. For right now, it’s offering up early versions of the HTC Vive directly to companies who’d like to create apps and content for the device.
As far as virtual reality headsets go, the stage is set for a battle between just about every company involved in gaming and mobile computing. Even before today, the Gear VR had stiff competition. Last year, Sony showed off Project Morpheus, a virtual reality headset that would be compatible with its PlayStation gaming consoles and services. The company hasn’t made Project Morpheus available in stores yet.
In theory, every company making a VR headset is hoping that it has the perfect formula for immersing users in their media. If successful, VR headsets could compliment video games and even replace the television.
At an event this past January, Microsoft, makers of the Xbox One and Xbox 360, unveiled HoloLens. Unlike the VR headsets of other companies, HoloLens focuses more on reality augmentation. Instead of putting a screen in front of users’ faces and preventing them from seeing what’s around them, HoloLens lets users look around their surroundings. What they see through device layers over what’s around them. For example, Microsoft’s showcase included having users play what appeared to be Minecraft on a table. HoloLens has cameras that see the area around someone and processes information. Microsoft doesn’t have a hard release date for HoloLens either; the company is only confirming that HoloLens will arrive running its Windows 10 operating system.