Samsung has partnered with Oculus to develop the Gear VR, a new type of mobile virtual reality experience, powered by the Galaxy Note 4. The Galaxy Note 4 and Gear VR were both announced at IFA, just a few hours ago.
The Gear VR will use the Galaxy Note 4 as the display, Samsung has built the hardware and Oculus has worked on software. Having a smartphone as the display has its advantages and disadvantages and definitely feels like a test product.
The advantage of the Gear VR having the Galaxy Note 4 is the display is actually nice and does not detract anything from the experience in terms of visuals. Video passthrough is another feature the Gear VR can boast, due to the rear camera on the phone.
Video passthrough allows the user to look through the rear camera on the Galaxy Note 4, to the outside world. This will allow users to see what is happening around them, without completely removing the Gear VR.
Disadvantages of the Galaxy Note 4 on Gear VR include it not being able to notice depth tracking, due to it not having a secondary camera. Samsung wants this as a more mobile version of VR, but this does take away some of the more sophisticated parts Oculus and Sony are working on.
Hardware is very simplistic, the Gear VR has an opening on the front, where the Galaxy Note 4 can be slotted. Early looks say the Galaxy Note 4 pairing does not work very well, and it takes a while to configure the setup.
The software on the Gear VR is extremely basic, there are a few applications for watching video and playing simulations, but these look more like pointers to VR’s potential, not applications we would want to see on the final product.
Samsung has been working on Gear VR for 1.5 years now and it is finally ready for launch this year. No word on how much the Gear VR will cost, but the buyer will need to acquire the Galaxy Note 4 as well, in order to actually use the device.
This is a two fold problem now, Samsung needs to sell the Gear VR and make sure customers know the Galaxy Note 4 is needed, and we doubt any real virtual reality nut wants to buy a new phone, just to try out some of the basic functionality.