Samsung to get into the virtual reality game with Gear VR at IFA 2014

9 Jul 2014

Not one to miss a perfectly good bandwagon to hop on, Korean electronics giant Samsung will be unveiling its low-cost Gear VR headset, which will run on Facebook’s Oculus VR technology, at IFA 2014 in Berlin, Germany, in September.

The gaming device will debut alongside the Galaxy Note 4 mobile device at the consumer electronics event.

The move makes perfect sense for Samsung, which has the hardware but not the software to break completely new ground in technology, and heralds the likelihood of Facebook becoming the Windows or Android of a whole new virtual reality (VR) paradigm. This paradigm isn’t just about gaming and novelty VR experiences, but also the very future of communications and presence.

According to Sam Mobile, Samsung has developed a modular design that allows users to dock a Galaxy device into the Gear VR using USB 3.0.

Instead of equipping the headset with sensors, Gear 4 makes use of the smartphone’s accelerometer, gyroscope and processing power to track head motion.

This development – in line with other wearable hardware, such as the Galaxy Gear smartwatches that emerged this year at Mobile World Congress – suggests it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for Samsung to also bring out its own Galaxy Glass eyewear if you consider such a device relies on the processing power of a nearby mobile device to do its thing.

Getting real

The Gear VR headset will be tabled as a low-cost alternative to Oculus Rift or Sony’s competing VR headsets, and will come with an elastic headband and soft cushions on either side of the device.

The headset will use the smartphone’s rear-facing camera sensor to supply a video feed of the outside world via a see-through button that will be located on the right-hand side of the device.

The fact Samsung is moving fast on this new genre and is creating a low-cost alternative could usher in a VR revolution among consumers faster than any one had imagined.

Virtual is about to get very real folks!

Oculus image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years