Samsung last week unveiled a consumer version of a virtual reality (VR) headset adapter that converts the company’s high-end smartphones into head-mounted displays.
The move represents a first step by top tech-industry players to push virtual reality hardware into consumer markets. Taking what they learned from the developer version of the headset that they launched last year, Samsung has introduced several improvements to the consumer version of Gear VR.
The consumer version of the headset weighs about 22 percent less than the earlier Innovator Edition and Gear VR’s touchpad gives users greater control. The company also added foam to the headset to make for a more comfortable, contour-conforming fit. Also, the price of the consumer version at US$99 will be half that of the Innovator Edition. The Gear VR is slated for a November release window.
Other competitors in the VR field, including Oculus Rift and Sony’s PlayStation VR are expected to be launched in the first-quarter of 2016 with a better fidelity experience, but, at a considerably higher price point and additional equipment, the PlayStation in the case of Sony.
The Gear VR and Google similar VR offering, Project Cardboard, appear to be focusing more on introducing the masses to virtual reality than attempting to provide more capable VR headsets. However, beyond pricing, the success of a platform depends on compelling content and it will be a while before developers figure out which VR experience work best for the broad consumer base.