Is Samsung Leaving Oculus To Launch Its Own VR Platform?

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Facebook Inc. is taking another stab at turning its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset into a mass-market phenomenon. Later this year, the company plans to unveil a cheaper, wireless device that the company is betting will popularize VR the way Apple did the smartphone.

Facebook’s new headset is designed to bridge the gap — a device that will sell for as little as $200 and need not be tethered to a PC or phone, according to people familiar with its development. It will ship next year and represent an entirely new category.

That explains Monday’s drastic cut of Oculus Rift prices.

Code-named “Pacific,” the device resembles a more compact version of the Rift and will be lighter than Samsung’s Gear VR headset, one of the people said. The device’s design and features aren’t finalized and could still change, but the idea is that someone will be able to pull the headset out of their bag and watch movies on a flight just the way you can now with a phone or tablet.

I actually picked up a Rift and a Gear VR earlier this week. Both have impressed me so far (in a very small amount of use). Rift, in particular, is a nice piece of kit. It’s lighter and more comfortable to wear than its closest competitor, HTC. I’m really curious to see how small and comfortable Facebook-Oculus can make a standalone unit.

Facebook’s new VR handset will ship in 2018 so will miss this year’s holiday shopping season, giving rivals a chance to hit the market first. But the $200 price and Oculus’s reputation among developers could give the gadget an edge with consumers.

I bet that Samsung Exynos VR system will also run Facebook-Oculus’ platform, and it could beat Facebook to market this year (I have no idea). But having covered Samsung through the first decade of the smartphone wars, I wouldn’t put it past them to pivot away from Oculus and launch their own VR store.

And I wouldn’t put it past Facebook to have already nudged them firmly in that direction. Which would be shrewd as hell, right?

1. Buy Oculus

2. License Oculus software and distribution platform to Samsung for Gear VR

3. Let Samsung deal with building hardware to give away to smartphone buyers: It builds your (Oculus platform) install base.

4. Advance the tech enough to build your own consumer-grade headset. Set the price bar super low ahead of time to screw with hardware competitors. Because you can, because you’re Facebook and have all the cash.

5.  Kick Samsung off the Oculus platform. Suddenly, your biggest competitor has no content. None.

6. Run for Preside… j/k

Gurman has a long, solid track record of breaking consumer tech product news, by the way.

Meet Samsung’s Next-Gen Virtual Reality Headset

We already knew HTC and Lenovo were prepping Android-based standalone VR headsets for launch later this year. By standalone, I mean “you don’t need to snap your smartphone into the goggles.” Surprise, surprise, Samsung’s working on a standalone VR rig, too.

A company called Visual Camp spilled the beans on Samsung’s Exynos VR, a forthcoming headset that will apparently use Visual Camp’s eye-tracking technology. Like Google’s standalone Daydream View rigs, Exynos will not only let you keep your phone free for other uses, it’ll also enable advanced VR features that a phone-based setup just can’t handle.

Lilliputing reports:

The Exynos VR is a headset with a built-in display, a smartphone-like processor, and all the other tech you need for virtual reality applications.

It looks like the latest version is the Exynos VR III, which features a 10nm hexa-core processor with two Samsung M2 CPU cores clocked at 2.5 GHz, four ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores clocked at 1.7 GHz, ARM Mali G71 MP20 graphics, and dual WQHD+ displas with a screen refresh rate of 90 fps (or a single 4K/75Hz display).

In addition to eye-tracking, the Exynos VR head-mounted display is said to support “hand tracking, voice recognition, and facial expression recognition.”

Assuming Exynos VR supports the Oculus store like Gear VR does, this is pretty exciting. Oculus has a big headstart over Google’s Daydream store when it comes to available content to make those virtual reality glasses come alive.

British Couple Get Engaged For Real in VR Simulation

Apologies for linking to a tabloid, but photos are worth a thousand words. A Brit named Robin King responded to a national search looking for someone ready to propose to their sweetheart, and to do so with the help of virtual reality. A first? Yes – at least in Britain – according to the article.

More importantly, she said Yes.

Arguably more important than that? Robin’s new fiancee, Kate, was wearing what looks to be a Samsung Gear VR.