US$199 Samsung Gear VR coming to US in December

13 Nov 2014

The Samsung Gear VR

The development model of the Samsung Gear VR (virtual reality) headset will be available for sale in the US starting at US$199, the electronics giant has revealed.

Known officially as the Innovator Edition, the headset was last showcased at IFA 2014 in Germany and was marketed as a low-cost entry into the growing virtual reality market.

Developed with technology from industry leader Oculus, the Innovator Edition will perform a similar function to Oculus’ own Developer Kit models, which allow software developers to test their creations with the 3D headset.

Of course, the difference between Samsung’s headset and other headsets on the market is that the Gear VR does not include a display, but rather uses a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone that is inserted into the headset’s goggles.

Aside from the US$199 price, which covers the cost of the headset alone, for US$249 Samsung is including a Bluetooth gaming pad.

While only open to developers in the US as of release, Oculus confirmed it is working with Samsung to push out kits to the rest of the world.

The US$199 price puts the kits somewhere in the mid-market range, with the Oculus Rift taking up the high-end market, while Google Cardboard’s DIY VR headset is placed firmly in the entry-level pricing range.

Project Beyond, a ‘teleporter’ for VR

Meanwhile, Samsung has tied its announcement of the Gear VR Innovator Edition with another piece of VR technology, Project Beyond.

Described by its creators as the ‘world’s first true 3D 360-degree camera’, Project Beyond will work with developers of the Gear VR to attempt to transport people into various locations by capturing them on the camera and uploading them into their software.

In terms of its spec, it will feature 16 stereoscopic cameras and a top-view camera, all of which are capable of shooting 35MP per frame.

The downside is that these new cameras won’t be available with the first release of the Gear VR but the Think Tank Team, responsible for their creation, has said developers will have access to content generated from Project Beyond from day one through their website.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic