Renders of Samsung’s upcoming virtual reality headset have begun appearing thanks to the efforts of Samsung fan site SamMobile. Called the “Gear VR”, the headset will apparently be making an appearance later this year at IFA 2014. The name follows the naming convention of Samsung’s wearable line, although nobody is entirely sure if Samsung expects people to wear this for extended periods of time.
Engadget has corroborated the reports, although they claim the actual prototype differs slightly from the render. The Gear VR will not contain any of its own sensors, instead relying completely on a docked smartphone. A USB 3.0 connector will attach to the smartphone to allow the device to use the rear camera for observing their surroundings, while controls will be shifted to a touchpad on the right side of the headset – in a configuration similar to that found on the Google Glass.
On the software side, Samsung will be building their usual array of proprietary apps to go with the Gear VR. Expect at least one virtual reality app that will use the camera for a neat party trick. Interestingly enough, the software used by the Gear VR is being developed in cooperation with Oculus (makers of the Rift gaming headset). It wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine that some sort of Facebook integration will be included as a result of all this. The SDK for the headset is also set to be released to developers shortly after the official announcement.
Who this smartphone peripheral is aimed at isn’t entirely clear at the moment. While most of the current VR headsets in development are aimed at complementing the gaming experience, Samsung does not operate in that particular area and generally makes electronics for the more lifestyle focussed consumer. Some may assume that it is an attempt to compete with the Google Glass, although the size and bulk of the headset may make it too uncomfortable to wear for long periods.