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.