Samsung's Gear VR virtual reality headset: Days of Future Past?
Consumer Virtual Reality is no longer a pipe dream of the mid-1990's, consigned to the blocky polygon visions of the arcade machines or a nauseating variety of red-tinted Nintendo characters.
Samsung's foray into the commercial virtual reality headset, the "Galaxy Gear VR," is now available and is it the breakthrough we had all been waiting for? Or is it simply the return of the Virtual Boy with more colours? Will this go the same way as 3D TVs?
If you haven't been following the advancements in Virtual Reality since 1996, the technology has been experience a rennaisance of sorts over the last three years. Through as successful Kickstarter campaign by Luckey Palmer and his Oculus Rift kits, which not only convinced the 3D programming legend and co-founder of id software (makers of Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake) to leave id and join Oculus, but also managed to convince Facebook to pay upwards of $2 Billion to purchase the company outright.
Gear VR, from Samsung, is the first VR headset available to general consumers - beating Oculus and Sony to the market, although unusually Oculus have collaborated with Samsung on this device. Althoug, when puchasing the device from Samsung you have to agree that this is a "device targeted specifically to developers or early adopters of technology."
Samsung appear to be in this for the long haul. Although it is a consumer device: a headset that, when added to your Samsung Galaxy Note 4 turns your phone into a VR display. It is an early play for the consumer mindset and wallet.
Will it suffer from being too early out of the traps? Samsung do not appear to be to worried about this and understand that it will take a while for this to reach critical mass.
In an interview with the Verge, Samsung were reported to say "We don't even really care how many we sell. It's about: Do the people who bought it like it. Is it comfortable? Do they feel like it's compelling? Is it something they're showing their friends? And that's really the key goal from this: learning."
It looks that they will try to build out a market and a business model for VR developers and other creative types, such as movie or film makers.
"We believe that the experience is very, very good right now -- it's perfect for you; it's perfect for me -- that's what we believe."
The gauge of success is about did people who bought it like it and did they not return 100 percent of them. It's as simple as that. If someone bought it and liked it and told their friends about it and thought it was cool? Awesome! If we get it back and everyone's like, "This doesn't work well; I don't like it; it's horrible." Then we know we've got a lot more room to improve than we thought.
So, is the future here again? For more of the interview and a detailed hands-on with the Samsung Gear VR, click over to Engadget for their coverage.
Launch apps and games as of 8. December 2014:
• OOBE/Intro to VR Oculus – Felix and Paul
• Oculus Cinema – Oculus
• 360 Videos – Oculus
• 360 Photos – Oculus
• Herobound – Oculus
• Esper – Coatsink Software
• Bomb Squad – Eric Froemling
• Darknet – E McNeill
• Viral – Fierce Kaiju
• theBlu – Wemo Media, Inc.
• Anshar Wars – OZWE
• Proton Pulse – Zero Transform LLC
• Titans of Space – Drash VR LLC
• Romans From Mars – Sidekick LTD
• Dreadhalls – Sergio Hidalgo
• Ikarus – Uber Entertainment
• Minotaur Rescue VR – Llamasoft, LTD