Rumours surrounding a new VR Headset from the electronics giant Samsung circulated recently, originally reported by Engadget. At the time, the angle was Samsung entering the market to compete with Oculus VR, makers of the Oculus Rift. Now, the rumour has switched tack, primarily to that of Oculus collaborating with Samsung on a device specifically focussed towards media consumption rather than gaming.
It’s no secret Oculus are investing R&D into a fully mobile, Android based version of the Oculus Rift along with a mobile focussed SDK. In fact, Palmer Lucky, the inventor if the Rift confirmed its continuing development in Reverend Kyle’s SVVR ‘Ubercast’ on this very site just recently. However, no hint that Oculus even had plans to fire up partnerships such as this has ever been forthcoming, which would usually make us rather suspicious of such rumours.
Except that, the partnership details actually make some compelling sense. Engadget states that the arrangement is ostensibly an exchange. Oculus is to give Samsung early access to its current mobile SDK (and presumably some help with implementation and integration, although this isn’t specifically mentioned) and in return, Samsung gives Oculus first dibs on its cutting-edge, high resolution mobile display panels plus UI/UX help, presumably for integration into Oculus’ own software offerings.
It’s well known that one of the hurdles the consumer Rift faces is finding an OLED panel capable of low persistence of vision, a high refresh rate (90+Hz) and that’s also high enough in resolution to provide the consumer Rift with a pleasing image. Reducing screen door effect as far as possible whilst increasing available image detail puts Oculus at the very bleeding edge of display technology. A partnership with the leader in this field would be an incredibly smart proposition for both companies and could mean that Oculus can deliver on its hopes for a consumer edition hitting the market more speedily, post Oculus’ Facebook acquisition.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s VR Headset seems to be developing into more of an accessory for your existing Samsung mobile phone. i.e. The imaging and processing duties are handled by your phone with the headset attaching (presumably for feeding extra orientation information) to your phone via USB. Something that the chaps at Gameface might raise an eyebrow at, but I doubt something that would worry them in the long term. However, the Avegant team may well feel differently, given the media focus of their device.
If and when we find more concrete details on the story we’ll of course let you know. But for now, treat the story as an intriguing and plausible rumour.