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Samsung Gear VR leak shows off cheap Oculus Rift alternative

Andrew Williams


Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR

An image that appears to be of Samsung’s Oculus Rift rival has been leaked ahead of the device’s reported unveiling at IFA 2014, which starts on 5 September.

A picture of the Samsung Gear VR has been revealed. Looking like a fairly slimline pair of goggles a good deal smaller than the Oculus Rift, it’s something you slot a Samsung Galaxy Android device into, rather than having its own displays perched in front of your eyes.

The image was published by SamMobile, which claims that the Gear VR will be shown off at IFA 2014, where Samsung is also expected to announce the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

The Samsung Gear VR headset appears to use the phone’s hardware almost exclusively, with little of the work done by the headset itself. Your phone’s screen becomes the Gear VR’s display, the rear camera is used to ‘see’ the outside world using a transparent windows in the headset and the phone’s sensors are used for head tracking.

All of Samsung’s new phones have a gyroscope and accelerometer, letting them track your head movements fairly accurately in Wiimote style.

The Samsung Gear VR’s main job is to provide the lenses that trick your brain into thinking you’re viewing a display at a proper distance, not a 5-inch screen an inch away from your eyeballs.

The inspiration for this device is fairly obvious. Google gave out a cardboard virtual reality headset at I/O 2014, and it seems Samsung may do the same with its plastic ’n’ rubber Gear VR at IFA 2014.

SamMobile writes that apps like the gallery, media player and 360-panorama viewer will initially work with the Gear VR, and that Samsung will also make an SDK available to developers.

It seems like the Samsung Gear VR may soon join the Galaxy Beam and Galaxy Round as odd little curios that’ll never really sell. But we’re looking forward to trying it out to see if it induces a headache in less time than it takes to brew a cup of tea.

Next, read our Oculus Rift vs Project Morpheus comparison


July 9, 2014, 9:25 pm

Samsung have had close links with oculus for a while, producing screens for the crystal cove and probably dk2.The idea of using a phone as screen and tracking device is pretty obvious and has been done both by home modders and durovis (among others) who have been selling them for a while now. To say that googles highly derivative cardboard project is inspiration for samsung vr is a bit silly really, it makes this article seem ill-researched.

Joe Banes

July 11, 2014, 3:02 pm

Yeah, as light said, Samsung and Oculus have been working together (as have Oculus and Sony Morpheus). This is not an alternative to Oculus. You have to have Samsung products to work with this from what we know and it's not connecting to a PC. It's great to have VR experiences for the cellphone. I've tried the Sulon version of this in prototype and it was a fun, untethered, experience. However Sulon and Samsung won't currently replace or compete with the Oculus. True Player Gear's Totem is certainly aiming squarely at Oculus, but they'll be near the same price, if Totem isn't much more expensive.

To get people to read about Samsungs device you don't really need click bait titles. The people who are interested in this would have clicked on a title that said "Samsung VR HMD Pictures Surface". So and so rivals Oculus, so and so aims to scare Oculus and Oculus responds with..Ugh. Such silliness. There is plenty of room in the VR market right now. Most of the devices aside from Totem are different than the Oculus in how they are used (Morpheus is PS4 only, yet people think Oculus should be shaking in their boots because of it). Cellphone experiences will never rival full computer VR experiences no matter how powerful they get. They still offer fun, convincing options, but they are no threat to the Oculus in their current state (Unless Oculus goes forward with their plans to implant Android into their device which to me should make the other groups scared as then Oculus is ready for two platforms). We'll see if Totem is a true contender, but so far they are not overly convincing when they announce a demo and can't even get it to work at a huge trade show like E3. Still I root for all things VR. Competition is good, it drives everyone to go bigger and do better.

I also agree with light that Samsung isn't responding to the silly Google cardboard junk, they've been working on their HMD for some time now. I began hearing about it at the beginning of the year on the rumor mill. I've not tried the Google cardboard HMD yet, but I've tried just about every other one on the market or at trade shows. Cheap and VR don't tend to work out well because of comfort. That Google device does not look comfortable at all, but who knows. I haven't tried it so I can say. Here's wishing for better articles on VR that just discuss the products without trying to pit them all against each other in some sort of gladiatorial spectacle. Yay for Road to VR.

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