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Sixense Announces Gear VR Support for STEM System

After a few months of delays, Sixense is finally preparing to ship its STEM motion controller system to Kickstarter backers in November 2014. VR developers have been waiting to get their hands on the kit for a long time now and will soon be able to integrate it with their virtual reality (VR) experiences for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD). But, as Sixense CEO Amir Rubin revealed this week, that isn’t the only HMD the kit will work with.

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Speaking at this week’s San Francisco VR Meetup (SFVR) Rubin confirmed that the kits that ship next month will be fully compatible with the Android operating system (OS) and Samsung’s Gear VR smartphone-based HMD. He revealed that the company will be showcasing the two working together at the Samsung Developer Conference on 11th – 13th November with the same software demos as seen on PC, including the Star Wars-inspired lightsaber simulator.

“We’ve been supporting VR for many years professionally, we’ve done a lot of work in VR for many years,” the CEO said. “And it’s always been a PC, it’s always been about a very advanced personal computer that can push a lot of polygons and do a lot of fast rendering and that kind of thing. And then we met Samsung. Earlier this year Samsung flew to our office, we had our software team and our hardware team and we basically told them ‘we don’t believe it’s doable, you will not be able to render, you will not be able to run VR on a phone. It’s five years away.’

“And they basically flew in from Dallas, brought an earlier version, at the time it was the S4 and blew our minds. We could not believe what we’d seen. Even people as sceptic as Owen here, our lead programmer that basically wrote it off had to admit that what they achieved – with the help of Oculus – but what they achieved was by far, I believe, second to the DK1 or second to the first prototype that Palmer put together, a game changer for VR. And from that point on we started working with them.”

Rubin reasoned that, at this point in time, only one STEM controller works with Gear VR. He also confirmed that the system wouldn’t offer quite as low latency as it did on PC with Oculus Rift. Instead, the latency will be set at 7.5 milliseconds using a Bluetooth low energy connection. Rubin concluded by stressing the importance of making sure that Gear VR had good applications so that it could succeed as a mainstream device.

Pre-production prototypes for the Sixense STEM System will ship on 6th November 2014. VRFocus will continue to follow both Gear VR and STEM System, reporting back with all the latest updates.