Samsung might have one of the most accessible virtual reality headsets on the market with its Gear VR. But that system, which uses a Samsung smartphone as both its screen and brain, doesn’t come close to the power of more robust headsets like Facebook’s Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, or Sony’s upcoming PlayStation VR.
So what’s Samsung going to do about that? Build its own high-end VR system.
According to Variety, Samsung’s head of research and development for software and services Injong Rhee announced that the company is, “working on wireless and dedicated VR devices, not necessarily working with our mobile phone.” Rhee also said the company is also developing hand- and gesture-tracking, both of which the Gear VR lacks.
The fact that the company is developing VR headsets that don’t require Samsung smartphones is big news. It also means that the headsets will likely be more expensive than the $100 Gear VR, as they will need to include their own displays and processors rather than rely on users’ smartphones as screens and for computing power.
As Variety correctly points out, the fact that Samsung is building one or two dedicated VR headsets means that it will be competing directly with Facebook’s Oculus and its Rift headset. That sounds like it could get messy, as Oculus provides the software that powers Samsung’s Gear VR.
That said, while Oculus is keen on selling the Rift headset, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey told Yahoo during an interview at CES 2016 that he sees Oculus as more of a virtual reality platform, much as Google’s Android is a platform for smartphones and tablets.