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Oculus Gaining Legitimacy With Samsung VR Headset

Samsung announced the Gear VR -- a VR headset made in partnership with Oculus Rift (aka Facebook) for use exclusively on the upcoming Galaxy Note 4.

The Oculus Rift, while a cool piece of technology where just carrying the case will give you plenty of geek cred, hasn't really taken off yet. Part of that is because it hasn't been commercialized yet, with the company selling just development kits.

While VR headsets are still very new territory, lots of cool things have been coming out that are centered around the Oculus. For example, the company recently released its  Development Kit 2 (DK2) which features a forward facing camera, and last week Leap Motion introduced a clip that mounts its motion gesture controls to the front of the Oculus visor so users can "interact" with virtual objects using their hands.

Now, Samsung has introduced its own version of the Oculus Rift, that will be driven by the upcoming Galaxy Note 4, called "Gear VR Innovator Edition". The Note 4 straps into the VR Headset, and using the 5.7" screen, and also has adjustable lenses to correct for near and far-sightedness. Compared to the previous versions of Oculus Rift, one nice thing about this VR headset is that it does not have any wires that get in the way of movement. The one downside, however, is that audio comes out of the Note 4's speakers, so people around you will hear whatever it is that you are experiencing (so probably want to hold off on the porn in public) unless you attach a pair of wireless headphones. One other nifty feature is that it uses the Note 4's camera to see what's in front of you, so you don't end up bumping into things.

In addition, Samsung has also announced that it will launch with four experiences with the Gear VR:

  • Oculus Home -- an interface that connects to Oculus Store where you can buy and download VR content
  • Oculus Cinema -- an app that can play 2D and 3D media in a virtual movie theater setting
  • Oculus 360 Video -- an app that can playback panoramic videos
  • Oculus 360 Photo -- an app that allows you to experience panoramic photos.

Harmonix, the developer of RockBand and Dance Central has also announced in a tweet, that it will be developing something for the Gear VR, but not much more info has come about from it.

While this is definitely a very exciting product, a release date, target price, etc. are still missing. Considering that on-contract, the Note 4 will probably be around $299 intially, I am going to guess that the Gear VR will also be pretty costly, and at least for now, can only work with the Note 4... which is fine for the next year or so, but what about when the Note 5 comes out? 

Another thought is what will be the names given to people who wear these out in public? If Google Glass wearers are called "Glassholes", what about people wearing Gear VR? 

Let me know what you think!

Published Sep. 3rd 2014

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