With its marketing chief telling the world that embattled Samsung Electronic is “focused on accelerating the speed of innovation” and promising to “never slow down,” the South Korean conglomerate has introduced a virtual-reality headset with a smartphone whose bended screen should help send users into another world.
As the BBC reports:
The new kit was revealed at the Ifa tech show in Berlin.
In addition to the Gear VR and Note Edge, the company also showed off the fourth standard version of its large-screened Note smartphone, which introduces an ultraviolet light sensor.
As press reports have explained, the news comes as Samsung struggles to regain its mojo. This summer, the electronics division reported a 20% year-on-year plunge in net profit. At the same time, scores of top execs headed for the exit. Even worse:
The company’s smartphone market share fell from 32.2% in the April-to-June quarter of 2013 to 24.9% in the same period this year, according to research firm IDC, despite the fact it has one of the biggest ranges of handsets.
Here’s a bit more about the VR gadget:
The virtual reality headset is the result of an alliance with Facebook-owned Oculus and acts as an add-on for the Galaxy Note 4.
It uses the phone’s 5.7in (14.5cm) screen and speakers, and adds a focal adjustment lens – allowing it to adjust for near and farsighted eyes – and a variety of sensors to track head movements.
The firm said the machine would offer a 96-degree field of view, giving an experience similar to looking at a giant 175in (4.4m) screen from two metres away.
And as the Verge pointed out:
Samsung built it in partnership with Oculus, maker of the Oculus Rift, arguably the best VR headset, and recent Facebook acquistion. The company says the Gear VR will be available later this fall for an unspecified price. The Gear VR brings to mind Google’s Cardboard project, which uses a smartphone and cheap lenses to provide a basic 3D virtual reality experience. But it’s a much more complete product than Cardboard, much closer to the Oculus Rift in design and apparance (and you don’t have to build it yourself).
As the Verge’s Dan Seifert described it, the headset should be impressive:
Navigating menus, exploring worlds, and playing games is mostly done with head movements and taps on the side-mounted trackpad.
Using the Gear VR is very similar to using the Oculus Rift: it’s a completely immersive experience that detaches you from your real environment. But unlike the Rift, there are no wires tethering you and the Gear VR to a computer, so you can freely move about and walk around.