22
May
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I get the feeling that Samsung often makes hardware just to be sure they've got something ready, on the slim but possibly lucrative chance that an upcoming hardware market explodes. The Galaxy Note, the Galaxy Gear, the Gear Fit, the Galaxy Beam - all of them slightly crazy niche products following a trend. If Engadget is to be believed, you can add a virtual reality headset to the mix. A Samsung VR headset, similar to the Oculus Rift but intended for use with Samsung phones and tablets, is rumored for production later this year.

galaxy rift

Why? At this stage in Samsung's corporate development, it might be more appropriate to ask, "why not?" Engadget's sources claim that Samsung wants to beat Oculus owner Facebook and Sony's project Mobius to market, besting them on price and banking on the strength of the Galaxy brand. The VR device would be marketed as a phone and tablet accessory made specifically to play Android games. The report claims that this project is separate and distinct from the "Galaxy Glass," another project said to compete directly with Google's own Glass.

At this stage in the device's development, it's using an OLED screen or screens for the primary display and running in conjunction with current-generation Samsung mobile hardware. The final version is said to rely on even more powerful Samsung phones and tablets yet to be revealed. The price would be lower than Sony or Oculus, which would be impressive, since the development kits for the latter are already well below the $500 mark. If gaming is going to be Samsung's focus, relying on Android gaming developers to provide consumer-ready titles for an untested market seems like an odd choice.

When it was released, the Galaxy Gear was thought to be a quickly-produced competitor to a nebulous "Apple iWatch" at least as much as it was a true competitor to devices like the Pebble and the Sony Smartwatch. Assuming that Engadget's report is correct, a Samsung VR helmet is probably a hedge bet - a product created just to make sure that Samsung has a horse in the race if VR turns out to be "the next big thing." Whether or not it's actually a good idea, or even a marketable one, probably doesn't matter all that much to Samsung. They're on top of the world with money to burn, and a few hundred million spent on a speculative product would be acceptable to make sure they stay there.

The VR headset is in the intermediate development stage. A lot could happen between now and a theoretical release later this year - the project could be scratched, or it could be the cornerstone of the winter lineup. Or this entire rumor could be so much hogwash. I wouldn't doubt that Samsung is investigating VR's viability, since it seems to be the hot ticket at the moment. Are they actually going to release a device? For that, we'll just have to wait and see.

Source: Engadget

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock
  • Sean Lumly

    This is great for a number of reasons. The first is that Samsung is very competitive, and generally competes strongly regardless of the industry. More competition generally means higher quality products.

    The second is that Samsung is a component manufacturer, which means good things for the industry as a whole. Things like sensors, screens, application processors, etc, are things that Samsung can offer to other VR hardware OEMs.

    • someone755

      "good things for the industry"
      Yeah because the Exynos chips in the last few hundred phones they've released were just wonderful. Plus they had all the flawless sources available for kernel making.

      Okay, I hate Samsung, big deal. My question is, how do you make a profit off this? Android doesn't have much games that would work well with with the kind of controls...

      • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

        ya Exynos is pain for Custom ROMs and Kernels, but what does that have to do with this?

      • oneloveonehate

        Not all Samsung products run Android. Actually the majority of the things they make doesn't. But you're one of those people that hate companies for one thing they do not the other thousand.

        • someone755

          No, I just hate Samsung. Really, really, hate Samsung.

          Also, "Android" Police. Made me think it actually had something to do with Android. Really have to watch out for that...

      • Sean Lumly

        Yes, it means good things for the industry. For example they are positioned well to design fixed function hardware to do optical distortion correction at low power and low latency. They are also positioned well to do hardware video upscaling using technologies already implemented in their Bluray players and TVs -- such a thing would make ultra-high resolution displays much more feasible (eg. 4K per eye and the like) with interactive content. Other examples may be high-speed cameras with a low-latency passthrough to silicon, chips with large SDRAM caches, the implementation of a G-sync like variable refresh rate screen and controller, or an affordable low-latency wireless HDMI transmitter, for use of the headset with PC.*

        One thing Samsung has shown time and again is that they offer products with tons of features. For a very new VR industry, this is a very good thing.

        * Sensics offers such a wireless Tx/Rx, but it costs around a kilo-buck. The latency is a very palatable 1ms, though.

  • supremekizzle

    Make sure to pull it off fast!

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  • Chris P

    Expect Samsung device exclusivity as it uses Samsung's proprietary MHL adapter, or some other exclusive connectivity.

  • Nathan Walters

    As far as I'm concerned, this just means more market fragmentation and more headache for developers, unless VR headset manufacturers can agree on some standards.

  • cgallaway2000

    I am thinking that this may or may not come to the market. As such, I would expect development in this area is more likely about the ability to create patents....and the protection of those patents....especially if Apple ever gets into the picture.

  • luigi gorlero

    What's next Samsung? Branded Underwear?

  • http://www.scottcolbert.com/ ScottColbert

    Sigh. I'm slowly running out of reasons to like Samsung anymore, let alone give them my business.

    • TylerChappell

      Same. I'll likely never buy a Samsung phone. Or their smartwatch. And definitely not one of their million tablets to choose from. I'll always go with HTC, Motorola, and even Asus and maybe LG before Samsung. LG still is somewhat slow to update some of their devices though and have no problem abandoning their midrange devices.

  • Frank Lopez

    This is how you realize that samsung business model is strictly to copy apple. And when they have nothing to copy throw garbage at the market with half ass products to see which one bites.

    I just cant support a pathetic company like this. You have the resources to innovate. Instead of doing so, you are pure trash with popularity by default. Cheap plastic gadgets need t o die.

    • qu4ttro

      This is actually pretty accurate.

    • Sean Lumly

      The trouble is assuming that what you can see -- "the cheap plastic" as you call it -- is evidence of lack of innovation. There is an entire subsystem of electronics in a modern mobile device, and I can assure you that Samsung innovates a great deal in this regard.

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    http://www.theonion.com/video/new-wearable-computer-also-sucks-your-dick,33017/

    So, with this article in mind. When will this device actually be released to the market?

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    So where does the credit card slide in?

    • HugePotato

      Give me these augmented reality googles, priced at 400$ so I can spend some more money on these great games gameloft has. Especially energy system ones, these are the best. I mean would anyone buy that shit? It works for PC and consoles that's for sure, but mobile games rarely have any quality at all(xcom would be a good example of great game).

  • Mr.BumScratcher

    I have a Samsung smart fridge!

  • John Smith

    Imagine if there was a joystick for it that you had to put in your mouth

  • Sean Lumly

    I really hope that Nvidia gets into this game. Next to Sony and Oculus, they would probably be the best aligned to bring something successful to market. I would take a Tegra VR headset over a shield any day of the week.

  • qu4ttro

    Oh Samsung...Im not sure what youre thinking, but a little success has certainly fucked you in the head...

  • qu4ttro

    It makes no sense at all. Simply put, its a stupid idea.

  • qu4ttro

    In what way exactly would this be anything even close to great?

    • steelew

      IF...your phone were powerful enough to run the games required for this to work this could be a portable option for what is shaping up to be (from oculos and sony) a console only experience. It MAY be cheaper than either of them and its competition to make products like this sooner than later and have more/better features.

  • Sofia Caden

    Samsung have previous experience of announcing that they are going into a market late, then beating others to the sales counter, but it tends to be for the sake of publicity and at the expense of developing a decent product. I'm thinking specifically about their smart watches, which were universally greeted with "average at best". http://bit.ly/1jKn0PH

  • Matthew Fry

    The Note 3 is speedy if you get rid of the bloat. My Note 3 runs without a hitch on stock with TB, Xposed, and Action Launcher.

    • power_pizza

      Absolutely. My issue is that a user shouldn't have to perform those steps in the first place. The vast majority of people don't even know where to begin.

      It's embarrassing that my S3 running CM11 can launch apps and get to the home screen noticeably faster than my friends Note 3.

  • Matthew Fry

    Can't wait for the "I fell in a manhole while wearing the Galaxy VR" lawsuits and eventual legislation.

  • sy

    No that doesn't look stupid said the person standing next to you on the subway.