A journalist tries the Samsung Gear VR at an event ahead of the IFA electronics show

Samsung releases wireless VR headset for new phone

Samsung has a released a virtual reality headset created in partnership with VR specialists Oculus to go with its new Galaxy Note 4 phablet.

The Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition, released ahead of the IFA Electronics show in Berlin, allows users to watch videos and play games in a virtual reality setting, thought Oculus says it is a beta-version of the device for developers and enthusiasts rather than a final consumer product.

Users place their Galaxy Note 4 into the front of the wireless headset, where it powers the device, and its 5.7 inch HD AMOLED screen acts as the display while Oculus’ VR technology provides motion tracking with sub-20 millisecond latency.

“The Samsung Gear VR goes far beyond expectations of how mobile technology can be used to consume content, and is a powerful representation of the progressive innovation of the Gear series,” said JK Shin, president and CEO of IT & mobile communications division at Samsung Electronics.

“We are pleased to have partnered with Oculus VR to bring this incredibly immersive mobile content experience to consumers.”

So far the device will come with four new VR applications, including Oculus Home – a simple interface for discovering and launching VR content – and Oculus Cinema, which is a virtual movie theatre where users can watch both 2D and 3D movies as if they were at the cinema.

Oculus 360 Videos and Oculus 360 Photos will allow users to playback panoramic content in VR and scroll through it by moving their heads.

“The magic of a completely portable and wireless VR headset is easy to underestimate until you have experienced it,” said John Carmack, CTO of Oculus.

“We don’t have the raw horsepower of a high end gaming PC, yet, but there are valuable compensations that make it a very interesting trade off, and many developers will thrive on the platform, especially as it improves at the rapid pace of the mobile ecosystem.

“At it’s very core, virtual reality is about being freed from the limitations of actual reality. Carrying your virtual reality with you, and being able to jump into it whenever and wherever you want qualitatively changes the experience for the better.

“Experiencing mobile VR is like when you first tried a decent desktop VR experience – there is a sense that you are glimpsing something from the future. This is science fiction made real, and it’s only just the beginning.”

The Oculus Mobile software development kit, which developers can use to create applications for the headset, will be available publicly on the Oculus Developer Center before the end of October, according to the firm.

The headset itself will be available at some point later this year, though Samsung declined to give a launch date.

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