samsung gear vr king of prussia (2)

One of virtual reality’s greatests strengths—that it’s a unique and unprecedented experience for most—is also one of its greatest weaknesses when it comes to marketing the technology. Without actually trying VR for themselves, how do you sell someone on the experience? Clearly this is known by Samsung as the company has taken their new VR headset to America’s largest mall to spread the word of VR.

While many are justly tempted to think that the Mall of America is the largest here in the U.S., oddly it’s the King of Prussia mall in southeastern Pennsylvania that takes the top spot by square feet—more than 2.7 million of them! (amazingly, it comes in only at 26th largest when you look worldwide).

samsung gear vr king of prussia (1)

At the King of Prussia Mall, Samsung has seen fit to install a pop-up booth in one of the mall’s busy corridor hubs. The pop-up booth lets shoppers get their hands on Samsung’s latest gadgets, including Gear VR—which takes up residence in a glass enclosed demo area which is branded with Samsung and Oculus logos.

See Also: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Gets Biggest Discount Yet Just Before the Holidays

samsung gear vr king of prussia (3)Representatives at the pop-up booth said that it’s been in the mall since November and will be there until January 5th, allowing holiday shoppers a chance to experience the company’s first mobile VR headset, which launched in the U.S. earlier this month for $199. Users were asked to sign a waiver before sitting down in a swivel chair to try the headset. The Gear VR demo’er said this was in case users got dizzy.

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Samsung has similar pop-up booths inside of Best Buy stores. While Samsung apparently shipped Gear VR demo units to the big-box tech store as early as September, we’ve yet to hear reports that Best Buy has actually put those units on display for the public to try. A pre-demo waiver signing was also mentioned as a requirement for the would-be Best Buy demos—it would seem that Samsung is quite fearful of people getting dizzy or somehow injured while using Gear VR.

Samsung is just the first of several major companies that will need to confront the challenges of marketing a technology that necessitates a try-before-you-buy approach. The good news is that regardless of what waivers need to be signed to get someone into a VR headset, first-timers are almost universally wowed by the experience.

Special thanks to Austin C. for visiting Samsung’s King of Prussia pop-up booth.

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  • Don Gateley

    “it would seem that Samsung is quite fearful of people getting dizzy or somehow injured while using Gear VR”

    It seems that it might be liability concerns from Sony and Oculus with the general public that is causing Oculus to exert such tight control over what content you can get for it. That hadn’t occurred to me ’till now. It may well kill the market. It might not be until the courts establish precedents on this that we will see what we’ve been hoping from VR and that assumes that the plaintiffs, which will crawl out of the woodwork and from under their rocks, will lose.

    Not a good harbinger.

    • Don Gateley

      Of course I meant Samsung, not Sony, but Sony will be facing the same issues with the Orpheus.

  • Nemoudeis

    The Mall of America is about twice the size of the King of Prussia mall; the stats that say otherwise only count their relative retail square footage, and the MoA has a couple of million more than that in entertainment space.

    I’m really only mentioning this because I’m annoyed that Samsung chose KoP over MoA, since I’m going to be at the MoA tomorrow…

  • philb

    I believe that much like some videos can cause nausea it makes sense for people to sign a waver. Its not just Oculus based devices the rumor running around that Magic Leap the company that Google invested a 1/2 billion could need to get FDA approval for the device? Samsung is acting on the best interest of the company because they have no way to predict peoples reactions. Much like any new technologies this one changes the game and as many youtube videos show if people are familiar it can mess with ones equilibrium. I don’t find this a deal beaker in fact I just plunked down money on the Samsung Note 4 just to get the headset. The other thing is I hope they are changing the head pad between peoples uses that for me would be more of a deal breaker. I would not use it if I was sharing the same head pad as everyone else in the building no thanks! :)

    • kevin williams

      @Phib – I think they may be wrong – the waiver is more to obfuscate liability if harm is caused from the unit to the user. This is called in the sector a “denial of liability” waiver – and is based on the practice started by OVR/FB to negate responsibility and negate “ambulance chasers” – after moving with DK2 to seated only demonstration.

      However, under law you can not sign away illegal practice, or liability for injury – so the waiver is a limited measure to focus users mind rather than a serious instrument of court – we would all be interested if someone was injured using the system and fault could be proven if this waiver would be a hindrance or a boon to the prosecution?

      One legal consultant stated recently that in having the waiver this shows that the manufacturer/demonstrator knew of a possible hazard existing – this could be called into question as being aware of an issue with the product, and so placing the user at “known” risk – this would remove any defense of “plausible deniability” and could back-fire more than if they did not have them sign a waiver in the first place!

  • Shack

    That being said, surely roller blades, ski’s, ice skates and many other things that you attach to your body fall into this category. If I crashed into a tree whilst skiing, I wouldn’t consider suing the ski manufacture, unless the ski had proved to be faulty.

    I could understand if Oculus, Samsung or Sony released a game where you had no choice but to run around your room, that would be very careless of them and open up a whole heap of lawsuits.
    The majority of consumers wont own a omni treadmill or even plan on investing in one due to cost and space limitations. As the VR scene develops more innovative hardware will come through meaning bums will stay planted on seats and maybe you will move your legs to create the feeling of walking.

    Certainly for the early years of consumer VR the games will be a seated experience as Oculus has stated, but there will be a place for VR in public where specially designed rooms will allow you to enhance your experience and run round a virtual world free from this worlds obstacles.(after signing a waiver!!)

    • kevin williams

      @Shack – there is a miss-comprehension in the application of liability with electrical goods and physical recreational goods.

      >”That being said, surely roller blades, ski’s, ice skates and many other things that you attach to your body fall into this category. If I crashed into a tree whilst skiing, I wouldn’t consider suing the ski manufacture, unless the ski had proved to be faulty.”

      The intention with an electrical device like a HMD in this case, is that the unit is not intended to allow you to be able to run into trees (by your operation) or to suffer from sickness or injury in fall or from constant usage – it is sold as a devise suitable for the job of “immersing the user in a computer generated environment” – all possible injuries would not be due to misadventure of usage (unlike wearing it in the bath and getting a shock, or using it on your bike!)

      >”Certainly for the early years of consumer VR the games will be a seated experience as Oculus has stated, but there will be a place for VR in public where specially designed rooms will allow you to enhance your experience and run round a virtual world free from this worlds obstacles.(after signing a waiver!!)”

      Sadly another miss-comprehension – the waiver is not regarding just falling over – it also includes clauses regarding possible future injury, and also age limitations and an attempt at waiving all future injury claims caused during usage. Then the fall and slip claims; but as said above it is impossible to sign away rights to seek litigation for injury caused, so in effect those waiver clauses are a smoke screen.

      The surprise appearance on the DK2’s of the new SDK power-up “warning notice” a case in point – some very expensive legal advisers have been active of late coming up with a rebuttal stance for certain HMD manufacturers regarding claims for sim-sickness and eyestrain (or worse) following the proposed launches of respective consumer platforms. Samsung is the first to publicly “test-the-ice” and already they have had to fall back to their “innovator edition” stance faced with initial claims!

      Finally, @Shack, the nice thing about utilization of VR in the public entertainment scene, is that the entrance ticket and signage is all we need to pass the ‘liability line’ – its the consumer sector that has the more difficult bar of entry, and we have not even touched on the FCC requests for correct disclosure of harm notices that the future CV1 could be saddled with!

  • Shack

    Hi Kevin, perhaps the law requires updating for this type of product. As it seems it’s not something that’s going to go away. It would be ashame this technology gets held back due to fears of legal pursuit.

    Yes it’s an electrical device but no other electrical device on the consumer market to date takes away virtual all your senses in one go.

    Sign a form on purchase stating that your aware this product is not to be used whilst batheing or riding a bike! (amongst a list of countless other things!)

    All game instruction for quite some time, state to take a 15 minute break every hour. I know most company’s use these warnings as a ‘get out of jail free card’ just as health & safety is as much to protect the employee/consumer as it is to protect the employer/company.

    • kevin williams

      I agree @Shack – the law for “immersive experiences” will be a brand new world for all of us to enjoy and experience – to the same level of how the Internet has reshaped social interaction across the board.

      Part of the reason that I wanted to side step the idealists and go for the reality – those that read ‘Ready Player One’ and saw a brand new world, miss the stepping stones to get to this Nevada.

      VR is a momentous step – but never let us overlook that it is just “technology” – the TV was as big a step from radio, as film is from VR!

      I agree it would be a very big shame for those in the current phase of VR to be so arrogant to think that the realities of the previous phase, and basic business, does not apply to them and so walk into the same old tramps that we saw before! The re-writing of history is an issue we need to be aware of.

      >”…Sign a form on purchase stating {that} your aware this product…”
      Remember, the acquisition process is treated as a “contract of sale” so you do not need a waiver!

      Finally, yes all video games have a “mandatory break” request – those are not linked to a “serious health issue” as is being seen with VR usage, literary, we have DK2 users that have been made seriously ill by over indulgence, a factor in the concern for correct legal protection by those manufacturing the future hardware!