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Samsung, Oculus Partnering on Gear VR

Virtual reality moves into the realm of mobile, as more companies get in on the action.

There have been rumblings Oculus and Samsung were collaborating on virtual reality for mobile devices, and today the companies announced Gear VR, which comes to life through Samsung's Galaxy Note 4.

While this is big news, it's also just the first step. When Gear VR ships "this fall," it does so under the "Innovator Edition" moniker. Both companies consider this a "beta" version of a forthcoming consumer product, albeit one users can ultimately purchase and mess around with. No price has been announced.

Unlike the Oculus Rift, Gear VR isn't tethered to a big, bulky device. You actually slip the Galaxy Note 4 into the Gear VR accessory, and you're good to go. There's no tethering.

When Gear VR ships, it'll include three applications built by Oculus. Oculus Home is a storefront for apps, Oculus Cinema lets you watch 2D and 3D content in a "theater" environment, and Oculus 360 Photos/Videos focuses on viewing panoramic content.

"The magic of a completely portable and wireless VR headset is easy to underestimate until you have experienced it," said Oculus CTO John Carmack in a blog post. "We don’t have the raw horsepower of a high end gaming PC (yet), but there are valuable compensations that make it a very interesting trade off, and many developers will thrive on the platform, especially as it improves at the rapid pace of the mobile ecosystem."

Carmack has been working on Gear VR for over a year, according to the company.

A mobile-specific SDK is scheduled for release before the end of October, which means Gear VR isn't likely shipping until some weeks after.

Full specs for Gear VR are available on Samsung's website.

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68 Comments
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Posted by Hugh_Jazz

I think this is a really cool move, too bad it's a Samsung thing though. Anyway, I would assume this settles it for the Rift getting a 1440p display(not that anyone was thinking it would be less than that).

Posted by CorruptedEvil

Huh.

Edited by HammondofTexas

Edited by billymagnum

oh boy....

Posted by Monkeyman04

YUP! first thing I thought of reading this was of that.

Online
Edited by MB

Hot on the heels of the hugely successful Samsung Galaxy Gear comes the Gear VR!

Moderator
Edited by Vigorousjammer

According to the specs, this thing will have... less than 20ms latency.
Anybody know what the amount of latency is in the current Oculus Rift?

Posted by chilibean_3

Soooo...is this just a way for them to get a solid partnership going for hardware for the real device?

Posted by Vessel28

Interesting. I doubt people will ever want to use VR on a train or something but I can definitely see them buying VR headsets for their tablets to use at home to avoid the confusion of getting one for a gaming PC. The fact that it shares Oculus may be good for those of us who want home system versions like the PC due to a shared library and less reliance on the main kit being a success.

Posted by GorillaMoPena

I guess we need pictures of Will Smith wearing every VR device.

Posted by Visnes

I've gotten more information about this from Giantbomb, than I have from Samsung themselves.. Their website is horrible.

Posted by MB

"The magic of a completely portable and wireless VR headset is easy to underestimate until you have experienced it," said Oculus CTO John Carmack in a blog post.

From that very blog post, speaking of magic...

"Context prioritized GPU rendering, enabling asynchronous time warp"

GPUs are so fast, they can now travel back in time and render frames before they are even requested!

Moderator
Posted by Murdoc_

Man, I love strapping on VR while riding the train to work. Before the hobos used to bother me, now they just steal my wallet and inappropriately touch me while I'm off in a far away world.

Edited by JDP83

Hey duders.

I'm actually a Gear VR UX designer working on software related to this project.

Though I can't say anything regarding Samsung's website on it, I will say we worked with Carmack on both setting up the hardware and software.

I know there's some hate for Samsung, but I promise our team is working as hard as possible to make it not suck. :)

Here is Carmack on stage talking about it (4:30ish mark to skip the pretty marketing chatter about it):

Edited by Seiru

Soooo...is this just a way for them to get a solid partnership going for hardware for the real device?

Yes, the reasonable theory is that this is how Oculus is getting their hands on the most advanced display possible for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift.

Edited by Sup
Posted by xyzygy

Samsung and Facebook... bleh.

Posted by wrecks

Can regular ass VR come out before mobile VR please? No. Fine.

Posted by MariachiMacabre

This thing seems like it could be really cool. But it feels more likely that it'll turn out to be a misguided waste of money.

Posted by Splodge

@jdp83 said:

Hey duders.

I'm actually a Gear VR UX designer working on software related to this project.

Though I can't say anything regarding Samsung's website on it, I will say we worked with Carmack on both setting up the hardware and software.

I know there's some hate for Samsung, but I promise our team is working as hard as possible to make it not suck. :)

Here is Carmack on stage talking about it (4:30ish mark to skip the pretty marketing chatter about it):

Hey! Sounds like a fascinating job. Must be cool to be working at the forefront of this kind of tech!

Can I ask if you have tried it? My worry is that inserting a phone into the headset might mess with the carriage for the lenses. Is there a chance that there could be some eye strain? That is my main worry about VR really, is that it seems like it is not fucking up your vision, but could be making it worse.

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Posted by Hailinel

Harmonix is already at work on something for this ridiculous thing.

Honestly, I thought that they would have stopped developing games for unproven tech the moment Microsoft burned them by making the Xbox One Kinect completely optional.

Posted by JDP83

@splodge: The team I'm on has spent more time in the prototype headset that was leaked on the Verge than most people in the world. I would get sick after only a few minutes of wearing the DK1 and not get sick wearing the DK2 or the Gear VR prototype.
I've only worn the final Note 4 version a couple of times but I will say it's awesome. The only issues right now are power usage, no positional tracking (not internally at least... yet though there are some ideas), and the fact that designing for VR is pretty much all new territory and all the 2D designers are pulling their hair out trying to learn what works and what doesn't.

Posted by DorkyMohr

It's a pretty natural fit. Phone technology is a huge reason that displays have gotten to the point where they're suited for head mounted displays. It's good news that we're already losing the tether so quickly into VR's resurgence.

Edited by JDP83
Posted by MariachiMacabre

@jdp83 said:

@mariachimacabre: John Carmack seems excited about it. :)

It's not the Oculus side of things I'm concerned about. It's Samsung.

Posted by Splodge

@jdp83 said:

@splodge: The team I'm on has spent more time in the prototype headset that was leaked on the Verge than most people in the world. I would get sick after only a few minutes of wearing the DK1 and not get sick wearing the DK2 or the Gear VR prototype.

I've only worn the final Note 4 version a couple of times but I will say it's awesome. The only issues right now are power usage, no positional tracking (not internally at least... yet though there are some ideas), and the fact that designing for VR is pretty much all new territory and all the 2D designers are pulling their hair out trying to learn what works and what doesn't.

Awesome-o. I have a feeling this Mobile VR stuff might end up being way more accessible to the masses, thus easier to market. And with the processing power we are getting out of phones this days, the possibilities are getting more interesting as time goes on.

Hmm positional tracking is a weird one. Do the sensors the phones use for positioning (flipping the screen, etc) not have the right amount of fidelity? Is the camera facing out of the headset? A PS move type of set up might work... I have no idea what I am talking about though.

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Edited by jArmAhead

@xyzygy said:

Samsung and Facebook... bleh.

Oh stop it. If you had any idea how many "bad" companies had ties to companies you like, you'd either stop complaining about things like this or go live on an island. Either way, this is pointless.

Samsung is fine, even if you don't like their devices and they are one of the premiere display makers out there (I believe they make many of the panels for displays such as Dell's UltraSharp line, often touted as the best consumer level screens you can get. And they have been pushing resolution on their screens for a while so a partnership with a company that has manufacturing down on very high density displays is extremely good news for Oculus.

And I don't know how much you've been following Oculus news since the Facebook acquisition, but it's been pretty much nothing but good news. People were worried that it'd be a Facebook box for your face for some reason, and that games would take a back seat, and you know what? Neither of those (frankly hilariously off base) "predictions" have come true. In fact, Oculus is pushing harder to directly contribute to games coming to the platform.

I fail to see why people are getting so fanboyish with this stuff. "I don't like Facebook therefore their money is going to ruin the Oculus!" Then it proves to be pretty great because they got just about every smart mind on the matter on their team in a pretty small amount of time. And now they are clearly courting a company that is arguably the optimal partner for display technology and people are once again (less often, but often enough) complaining just because they have some unrelated issue with that company.

Samsung makes excellent displays. If they can make a really high density, fast response low persistence display for Oculus, why does any of the random crap you have against them matter?

@visnes said:

I've gotten more information about this from Giantbomb, than I have from Samsung themselves.. Their website is horrible.

I don't think they really have the Gear stuff really on their site besides press releases. And that makes sense, this seems like it'll start as an Oculus sided initiative to get people interested and they'll start pushing it to other avenues after a bit of that.

The Oculus page for Gear VR has plenty of information, even has screenshots of the apps they are helping to develop.

Posted by JDP83

@dorkymohr: Trust me, as many demos for the DK2 we've had visit here and have non-game people test out - a tether is the LAST thing you want on a VR headset... 3 engineer guys who've never touched a game controller before unplugged a PC running a demo multiple times before they were able to grasp the concepts needed which most game-playing folks have had their whole lives to give themselves an "awareness" of the cords that they kept unplugging.

Either that or the DK2 plug needs to be another 12 ft long... :)

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

[Solid Snake voice]

Posted by Splodge

@jarmahead I was working in sales in an electronics store and a phone store over the last two years, and indeed Samsung screens are by far the best quality. I don't mean they are light-years ahead, really it is all a matter of very small degrees when it comes to the high-end stuff, but Samsung are consistently good. Very few returns on their products due to malfunction etc, their screens are tougher. Only thing I don't like about them are their tablets... I think they are over-priced for what you get. The TAB 3.0 and the LG 8 inch tab were roughly the same price with a slight size difference, and man that LG tablet was miles better.

It got very frustrating trying to get people to buy the superior tablet for the same price, but people would always go with the brand they knew. In Europe, Samsung are incredibly popular.

Online
Posted by JDP83

[Solid Snake voice]

Hahaha! I have to share this with my teammates. I hope you don't mind! :)

Posted by BigD145

Que pedestrian fatality spike.

Posted by HibikiRush

I was considering an upgrade to a Note 4 and this just made me want to do it that much more.

Posted by Ryuku_Ryosake

Its cool that some of this new VR tech will finally be hitting the consumer market in some fashion this soon. But it also is really weird that the full consumer version of their tech will be out before the Oculus. I feel like this is really the final straw of thinking of Oculus as a Kickstarter thing.

It's like you kickstarted a scifi fps for PC. However before release you teamed up with Activision and release a 'completely' different scifi fps using the same engine.

It make sense given how Oculus has grown but it seems weird to complete another project before finishing the one you first promised.

Posted by Winternet
Posted by Gold_Skulltulla

Holding our for Galaxy Gear Xrd Sign

Posted by Luck702

This can only be a good thing for the Oculus proper.

Posted by The_Joker

So many of these are going to get stolen right off people's heads.

Posted by spraynardtatum

Hmm, this'll probably be pretty popular and essentially where VR goes in general. No one wants to be tethered to a pc.

I still can't get over the whole Facebook thing :(

Edited by HellknightLeon

The bubble that will pop.

Posted by Amafi

@jdp83 said:

@dorkymohr: Trust me, as many demos for the DK2 we've had visit here and have non-game people test out - a tether is the LAST thing you want on a VR headset... 3 engineer guys who've never touched a game controller before unplugged a PC running a demo multiple times before they were able to grasp the concepts needed which most game-playing folks have had their whole lives to give themselves an "awareness" of the cords that they kept unplugging.

Either that or the DK2 plug needs to be another 12 ft long... :)

Wow, you guys must employ some dumb engineers. We have a bunch of HMDs and various things at work and I've never heard of anyone ripping any chords out.

Posted by JDP83

@amafi: Like I said, just that they have never played games. And these are guys not working on our project. Just other teams in our office.

No one on the VR team ripped anything out.

Posted by Jrad

@jdp83: Admittedly, I haven't tried the DK2 yet (just own the DK1, myself) but I'm not really sure how it's possible to be unplugging the HMD unawares? I guess if you're standing up and moving around a lot, but that doesn't seem to be what the Oculus is designed for. I mostly use mine seated (in a rotating chair) and haven't run into any problems -- and that's with the Oculus wires and my headphone cables as well.

Posted by paulunga

Makes sense, considering the DK2 uses a Note 3 display. Like, literally, it's Samsung-branded and includes the holes for the speakers and buttons you'd see on the cellphone once you take off the shell.

Posted by Madthijs

@jdp83: thanks for the comments. Much appreciated. Seeing Carmack onstage again made me happy. Seeing him excited made me pretty excited as well. I really dislike TouchWiz and the bs features Sammy usually puts in their products, but this is impressive stuff.

Edited by Dr_Insane

Mobile getting a consumer VR release before PC...? Never would have guessed. That's okay though, I'm 100% into the dream of a weird ass VR future where VR is everywhere, we lose touch with reality, society collapses and then bandit leader cyborg Jeff Gerstmann somehow winds up in charge of the Former United States, whatever promotes that is fine with me. Now finish Rift pls...

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

Hey, I have a Samsung phone, a few Samsung HDTVs, and I had netbook computer (my favorite computer I have ever owned)...so, sure I'll get some Samsung Gear VR.

Edited by xyzygy

@jarmahead: I will wait and see what comes of this. I just do not like Facebook and I do not like them having so much information about so many people. I will put my support behind Sony, Microsoft, maybe others who do VR. I realize that right now it seems like Oculus has this entire thing in the bag, but we don't know what the future will hold and I have no qualms with waiting it out to see what the landscape is like. If Oculus becomes the only VR on the market after failures by Microsoft and Sony, then so be it, I will probably end up investing in them, but only because I have no other choice.

I know that Sony and Microsoft are still corporations and I stand by my view that they don't care for any of us customers as long as they get their money, but I would simply choose them over Facebook (Oculus) any day because I don't like Facebook. That's it. I also know that Sony and Microsoft have information about people as well, but it's not in the SLIGHTEST to the same extent that Facebook corporations do.

As for Samsung, I was never a fan of their phones. I know they make GREAT televisions and displays, but that video makes it looks like you insert your phone into the headset, and I don't want to get a Samsung phone just to be able to use something like this.

Posted by Chris_Hall

@xyzygy: That's a bit naive to say. Would you have invested in Oculus before Facebook's buyout? They're still the same company they were then, except they have a much bigger financial backing. Nothing changed aside from there just being an extra step on the ladder. If you climb it you're still going to the same place.

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