Samsung's upcoming virtual reality headset is an Oculus Rift-looking device that functions sort of like Google Cardboard, according to a newly leaked image.
Reports claimed in May that Samsung was working on a virtual reality headset, and now more details about the project including the first leaked image have come to light. Tech website SamMobile has confirmed that Samsung's device is called Gear VR and it is being developed in collaboration with Facebook-owned Oculus VR. The company will announce Gear VR alongside the Galaxy Note 4 at IFA 2014 in September.
Gear VR isn't a standalone headset like the Oculus Rift. It's more of a modular design that will connect to a Galaxy device through USB 3.0. Samsung's headset can achieve VR-style, head-tracking capabilities by relying on processing power and specific sensors found within the connected smartphone (such as the accelerometer and gyroscope). Although Gear VR is a much more high-tech, you can essentially think of the device as a fancy Google Cardboard.
Virtual reality has been a dream for decades. But it has yet to fully emerge, because the technology requires expensive, specialised hardware that not everyone, including developers, can afford. Google came up with a solution last month however in which a smartphone drives the VR experiences. That solution was Cardboard, and it launched at I/O 2014 with an open software toolkit. Developers can use Cardboard to easily write VR software like mobile apps.
Gear VR is clearly different than Cardboard in that it features an elastic head band, soft padded cushions on each side of the device, and a see-through button on the right side that uses the smartphone’s rear-facing camera sensor to pipe video of the surrounding outside environment to the wearer. There's also a touchpad located under the see-through button for navigating the connected Galaxy smartphone. You can see all these physical features in the image atop.
There's no word yet on how much Gear VR will cost when it launches, but Samsung is reportedly working on Gear VR's hardware all by itself. Oculus VR is tackling the software side of things. Samsung also plans to open an entire hub for Gear VR apps (such as Theatre and 360 player), just like it did with Gear smartwatch apps.
As for the Gear VR SDK, developers can expect it to launch after the device officially unveils in autumn.