Continuing to push its established mobile VR business—recently revealing its flagship Galaxy S8 smartphones support and an updated Gear VR with controller—Samsung has again confirmed it has more powerful VR hardware up its sleeve. High-end, standalone VR headsets from Samsung are still in development, according to a report by CNET.

During an interview in South Korea just before the Galaxy S8 launch, Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of global marketing for Samsung mobile, confirmed that a high-end, standalone headset is “still under construction”. It is unclear whether the device can be tethered to a PC, but it is targeting “media producers and pro gamers”, so it certainly sounds like a device with aspirations to compete against the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

the New 2017 Gear VR with Controller
the New 2017 Gear VR with Controller

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about a high-end VR headset from Samsung. Having collaborated with Oculus from an early stage in the Rift’s development, the technology giant has hinted at ambitious plans for VR over recent years, and recently showcased new VR/AR experiments at MWC. According to a report by PCWorld, prototype headsets were shown behind closed doors at the Barcelona event, showcasing the performance of their new 10nm Exynos 9 chips. Can a mobile chip deliver VR experiences comparable to those rendered on a high-end PC?

In April 2016, Injong Rhee, head of R&D for software and services confirmed the development of a standalone VR headset with positional tracking, and evidence of the ‘Odyssey’ gaming brand being associated with VR surfaced in July. During last year’s Samsung Developers Conference, Rhee discussed the vision of Samsung’s future VR hardware, calling out four key points – motion tracking, untethered, touch, and a ‘holodeck experience’.

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“We have two tracks” for VR, said Lee Young-hee in the build-up to the Galaxy S8 launch. “First of all, let’s democratize this new demand … [and] make it part of our smartphone experience.”

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  • Vyruz

    “To compete with Rift”
    On headset: “Powered by Oculus”
    …hmmmm

    • Gerald Terveen

      I have been wondering if that solution will also be powered by Oculus and send customers their way for content. The Qualcomm reference design is really neat and Samsung might be able to add a nice bit of their own research into the mix. Quite possible they will not have Oculus on board with a stand alone and do their own content distribution.

      • Jim Cherry

        Either way they still have to deal with oculus in regards to gear software, that is unless they want to start from scratch and reboot or eol gear vr when this thing lands.

  • Get Schwifty!

    “First of all, let’s democratize this new demand … [and] make it part of our smartphone experience.”

    Ugh… really, let’s stop with the mobile market already in the same breath as a VIve/Rift. I’m all for a rich experience in mobile VR, but lets not pretend its the equivalent of anything more than a pedestrian-at-best experience… and I refuse to believe the copy-cat inclined company of Samsung is going to produce high-level VR experiences on any of their Android-based hardware outside of simple games and cheap video.

    • Jack Liddon

      Ain’t that the truth?!

    • victor

      yes agree!
      What is so hard to understand that a mobile phone can NEVER have the same performance of a PC period!!! And we all know PC struggles with VR so ….

    • OgreTactics

      1. Heresy. Have you still not understood that tethered (or in this case, enclosed/standalone) VR is already an absolute dead-end, and mobile is the only-way to go as of now already?

      5 Millions GearVR + S/Edge/Note7 systems (so 800$ if you’re tempted to summon that bullshit pricing argument) vs a ridiculous 300k for Oculus and Vive vs 800k for the 25 y.o…Virtual Boy is not enough of a clue?

      Let me add my own experience: 90% of the VR content projects I sell are chosen to be on the GearVR independently of budget but for the convenience of wireless which, in order of conceptual importance, far outweighs the advanced capacity of PC VR.

      2. “I refuse to believe the copy-cat inclined company of Samsung is going to produce high-level VR” Truth. It saddens me so much, as I’ve happily switched to Android after being finally convinced by the good incentives of the Galaxy S6/Edge7 and of course the GearVR which had an okay excuse for missing that compulsory head-tracking component for the first year.

      But given how hysterically, unperceptively even irresponsibly, as I can guarantee from a market prospective standpoint that they’ll sell less S8/+ than they did S7/Edge despite the optimistic launch, Samsung has decided to ruin their most important strategic competitive moment with the S8 and incentive with the GearVR…yup you’re right, those money-scrapping corporate copy-cats are incapable of iterating, conceiving or even using their own engineer’s patents. You know the one with the exact same design as the “new” Gear 360 described being used for…head-tracking, duh.

      • NooYawker

        The cheaper option will always sell more, Mobile VR isn’t real VR.
        Your basic argument is Luxury and Sports Cars are dead, the Toyota Camry is the future.

    • Nimblerichman

      Untethered VR is the future and desktop browser will be obsolete in a few years and I disagree if you think Samsung is a crappy brand and not to be trusted. Are you suggesting that Oculus or Vive is a better electronics manufacturer?
      Do you have any idea of what new stuff Samsung is working on?

  • Sponge Bob

    what kind of “positional tracking”

    inside-out based on cameras and depth sensors or conventional ?

    inside out will eat up CPU and battery a lot so this thing just might explode

    • Roman Vdovchenko

      we working on solution without agressive eating resources of mobile device: http://antilatency.com/

      • OgreTactics

        Hi, it looks interesting. So basically you’ve “reverse engineered” outside-in tracking, by putting the IR sensor on the headset which scans the LED bands to model and track the space?

        • Roman Vdovchenko

          It’s not only IR sensor. Our tracker is sensor fusion solution. We have outside-in tracking system on our b2b device named nettlebox, you can find some video. But ALT takes own coordinate and send it to host

      • Sponge Bob

        Why is it any better than lighthouse ???
        you still need to install LED bands on the outside – so technically it’s not inside-out
        but cheaper and lighter than lighthouse though

        on outdoor thing – I just don’t get it how LEDs are better than modulated laser in direct sunlight ?

        Are you based in Voronezh ?

        No US office ?

        • Roman Vdovchenko

          We will present our setup at VRLA, after that we will open office at SF.
          Right know our solution have no noise and negative latency. Installation time is no more than 2 minutes. We working with any headset, when lighthouse working with only vive

  • Ghosty

    If Samsung doesn’t switch to lighthouse they won’t be competing with any of the top VR headsets… Not now and not in second gen! If they stay Oculus powered it’s an immediate fail! Unless Oculus switches to their own lighthouse type system!

    • PrymeFactor

      Actually if they make an affordable, standalone headset with positional tracking, it’ll easily outsell both the Rift and the Vive.

      This bubble many of you live in is quite amusing.

      • Ghosty

        Well it’s a nice bubble… It’s a bubble that has the best VR!!

    • 12Danny123

      Lighthouse is pretty much a dead end regarding the future of VR.

      • Sponge Bob

        correct

    • Walextheone

      You come off as a troll or fanboy. You know tracking is just one of many parts that makes a VR experience. Ergonomics, software, sound, display etc are as important too. Lighthouse is nice and all but the future will not be so constrained + a phonemaker will probably want to use inside out tracking.

      • Sponge Bob

        inside -out tracking is dead for now – too much CPU/GPU consumed which is very much needed for actual VR rendering
        would you lower resolution in half just to have inside-out ?

      • Ghosty

        We are talking about high end VR not mobile… And perhaps inside out tracking might be the distant future, right now lighthouse presents the best possible tracking for today’s VR and for the next generation… Plus it has the added advantage of tracking 3rd party hardware like guns, gloves, and full body tracking soon… Inside out might work for a headset but not for all these other use cases… So yeah for right now I am a fan because it is the best available!

    • Sponge Bob

      camera based tracking scales up
      lighthouse does not

      me thinks lighthosue is dead in a few years

      • NooYawker

        Everyone knows what you think, you repeat the same thing over and over again.. .yes we all know you’re a huge oculus fanboy, we get it!!!

  • wheeler

    “Higher-Powered”

    “Standalone”

    Pick one.

    • Mike

      It could be standalone and high-powered (compared to phones), but then it would be over $1000.

      • Jim Cherry

        Great thing about phones is alot of carriers either subsidize or offer payment plans for them. If this comes out at 1k with no payment options itll sell better than the hololens “devkit” but worse than most ultra books.

      • NooYawker

        Premium phones are already $1000.

      • Gav

        Thing about phones is, their price is inflated so they seem like good
        value to consumers “buying” them on contracts, you can justify a $50
        per month contract as you get a “free” $1000 phone with it!

        Compare the price at release in 2017 of the iPod Touch 7th gen 16Gb ($199) to that of the iPhone 6 16Gb in 2017 ($649). Not much difference in hardware, not $450 difference.

        So fair to say a consumer VR headset based on similar tech to what is in an iPhone 6 (phone parts and price taken out) should be $250, say very latest tech as in the future iPhone 8 should be under $450.

    • vijay kumar

      Both maybe possible if they licence the seurat technology from google.

      I hope they do. They can give a ‘black eye’ to apple.

  • OgreTactics

    “standalone”…

    Okay Samsung is dead to me, the next step of VR is not going to be from them. I can’t believe I’m hoping for Apple to release something that makes sense again.

    • Sponge Bob

      Samsung was already dead for VR if not for Oculus

  • Sponge Bob

    High-Powered + Standalone = LOOOOts of pounds… in battery alone

    I bought standalone headset from China – picture is good, but no tracking of course, and LOOTs of weight on my face (they promised to move batetry to the back i nthe next iteration)

    not gonna work for now – had to return it