The Samsung Gear VR headset is an excellent early introduction to the wonderful world of VR. Provided you own a compatible Samsung smartphone, it’s incredibly good value, and will provide hours of fun. Except you do need the phone, and the most immersive VR experiences are provided by those that don’t, like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Is Samsung happy to remain top of the smartphone-paired VR headsets? No, it’s not.
Samsung’s working on dedicated, wireless virtual reality devices that may not require one of its smartphones to act as a screen, according to Injong Rhee, Samsung’s head of software and services R&D department. Speaking at a developer conference in San Francisco, it was also revealed these future VR products may feature positional, hand, and gesture tracking. This would see the resulting device compete with the Vive and Rift.
This raises an interesting question. Samsung collaborates with Oculus on the Gear VR, a partnership that has helped greatly with its success, not least because of the lens quality, but also because of the packed application store. Will Samsung continue this relationship with any standalone headset, or go it alone? After all, a Samsung headset that works without a phone as the screen would be a direct competitor to the Oculus Rift.
Sadly, the answer is unlikely to come very soon. Rhee is quoted as saying, “VR is amazing, but the industry is still at its infancy,” and said that any Samsung VR headset with all the cool tracking and positional features may still be years away from release. The Gear VR is of such good quality, and the VR experience it provides is so strong, that it makes us genuinely excited to see a full, wireless, standalone headset from the manufacturer. Even if it’s not going to happen very soon.