Samsung appears to be making a strategic partnership with Microsoft as it produces what Korean Times reports is a “powerful cordless headset that supports both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).” The headset is said to make use of Microsoft’s “Mixed Reality” platform, and to make its debut at Berlin’s IFA technology fair in late August.
“Samsung Electronics is working on developing cordless and high-priced headsets supporting both VR and AR,” an unnamed Samsung official told the Korean Times. “Definitely, Samsung plans to use in-house application processors, OLED displays and sensors. But more importantly, Microsoft has lowered its demand for royalties as it is taking a multi-pronged approach to delivering a rich ecosystem of games and applications that will entice users.”
As a proviso, Samsung is also reportedly asking Microsoft to use Samsung-fabricated processors for both Windows “Mixed Reality” and Windows “Mixed Reality” Ultra computers as one condition for its continued support for Microsoft’s new businesses, another Samsung official told the Korean Times.
Confusingly, Microsoft currently uses the denomination “Mixed Reality” to denote a wide class of products, including the AR headset Hololens, and VR headsets from a variety of manufacturers that boast inside-out positional tracking, but no appreciable AR capabilities. A more apt description of a mixed reality device: a headset that has the ability to equally service AR and VR use cases—something Samsung says it’s allegedly making.
“VR was once tapped as the next hot technology,” the official told the Korean Times. “However, despite sizable investment in it, the technology failed to resonate with consumers. Now, Samsung thinks the mixed reality market is a bit more promising than VR or AR in wider usability and adaptability. As we achieved in the ‘phoneblet’ market, Samsung has stronger intent in the consumer market with the firm’s new devices supporting mixed reality technology.”
Samsung most recently released the premium Odyssey “Mixed Reality” VR headset, which contains the same Samsung-built displays as the HTC Vive Pro, a 2,880 × 1,600 AMOLED (1,440 × 1,600 per lens). In the meantime, Gear VR, the company’s VR headset for select Samsung flagship smartphones, hasn’t been updated since last year’s model which introduced the new 3DOF controller.
While Windows “Mixed Reality” VR headsets currently only occupy a 5% reported usage rate on Steam across all manufacturers, Samsung seems to be taking the next step in pushing the platform forward. To what end, we’ll have to wait until August to find out.