Rumors are flying about Samsung's plans for the virtual reality headset market. Just a week after Engadget's last unconfirmed report on Samsung's VR device, there's a new post that sheds quite a lot more light on the subject. First of all, Samsung and Oculus VR (makers of the Oculus Rift and recently acquired by Facebook) are sharing technology to improve each other's products. And secondly, Samsung's device uses a dock for your phone, which then becomes the primary display for the device.

If that seems a little odd do you, you're not alone. Assuming that this really is the direction that Samsung is going, the "headset" would be more a of a head-mounted dock, albeit one with some extra hardware and software tricks thrown in. According to the report, the user's phone plugs into the headset with the screen facing the user's eyes, and the headset uses a discrete accelerometer for gaming and interface purposes, saving resources on the phone itself. Samsung is reportedly using an early version of Oculus VR's mobile-specific software development kit - if true, that means that the Korean company has exclusive use of it, at least so far.


Engadget's mockup of Samsung's slot-in design. The thumbnail above is from Gizmodo's hands-on of a hat that holds your phone in a similar manner.

This somewhat strange layout would include Android hardware buttons (home/back/recent) on the headset itself, and it would be possible to use the phone's rear-facing camera as a pass-through, allowing the user to quickly see their surroundings without taking off the vision-obscuring headset. It could even open up some interesting uses for augmented reality.

The idea of a slot-in design does make some sense. It would allow Samsung to sell the headset as an add-on, and at a much, much lower retail price than a headset with a dedicated screen, CPU, and GPU. Engadget says that the design is still in the early stages, using variants of the Galaxy S4 as development mules. Future versions would probably use the S5, or something even newer (possibly with a screen with an even higher resolution). Previous reports indicated a focus on Android-powered gaming and media - the current device is said to use motion detection and head-tracking to navigate the interface, but conventional buttons, a separate gamepad, or voice control are all possible. Games for the device are currently in development.

So what is Oculus Rift getting out of this? Screens. The report says that Samsung is giving the Facebook subsidiary access to extremely small and high-resolution OLED screens, even better than the ones currently featured in the second-generation development kit hardware. Since Oculus is the current leader in VR gaming software (in so much as it's possible to tell), and Samsung is one of the world's most prolific and sophisticated electronic screen manufacturers, it seems like a fair trade.

None of this information can be independently verified, and both Oculus and Samsung are tight-lipped on the subject, so treat it all as rumor for the time being. And when or if a Samsung headset comes to market, it could include all of these features or none. Or it could simply die in Samsung's R&D department, as so many off-the-wall ideas tend to.

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.

  • Kevin Aaronson

    I know this little known humble Korean developer gets some serious flac, but hot damn this is pretty cool, if legit.

  • senor_heisenberg

    This sounds like a terrible idea.

    • someone755

      Well, it can't be *complete* crap, now can it? I mean, it's not made completely by one crap manufacturer...

    • Casin

      Why? Samsung makes great screens and Oculus still handles the software.

      • Mkvarner

        As long as Samsung doesn't do the software it can't completely suck.

      • Dan Hibiki

        Note 3 might be able to pull off the resolution you need to make a proper VR head set, but phones just plain lack the tracking accuracy that you need to make a VR headset work right.

  • Shining Wing

    Oh, great, it's the My3D viewer all over again. Hopefully Samsung's thing isn't total crap like the My3D was!

  • Richard

    This is what everyone wants right?
    Samsung focus on hardware.
    Someone else to focus on software.
    Since everyone hates TouchWiz.

    • someone755

      No, I hate everything Samsung.
      The reason I stopped watching TV: my dad bought a Samsung one.

      • Godspoken


        • someone755

          I get that a lot.

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  • psuedonymous

    This would either imply:

    1) Samsung are willing to build the display controller hardware for low persistence driving mode into all 'compatible' phones.
    2) Oculus are willing to compromise the experience of those using the Samsung HMD in order to get access to (and possibly influence the development of) Samsung's high-end OLED panels.

  • Matthew Fry

    I'm pretty sure this kind of tech has been used before. Flagship phones have a higher resolution screen than what the Oculus has now.

  • danifeb

    apple docet

  • Guest
  • Kostas

    Seems familiar

  • black

    I f**king new it! They're just gonna slap a note 3 in front of your face.