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Samsung Hints at Official Positional Tracking for Gear VR

There are a number of ways that Samsung’s Gear VR smartphone-based virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) bests the Oculus Rift’s second development kit (DK2). The most notable of these are the higher resolution display panel and the lack of wires connecting Gear VR to another device. However there’s one feature the DK2 boasts that Gear VR doesn’t officially support just yet. That feature is positional tracking which is absent from Gear VR’s Innovator Edition but, according to Samsung itself, may just be added in later down the line.

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The companies’ Alex Chu hinted as much during his ‘VR Design: Transitioning from a 2D to 3D Design Paradigm’ session at the 2014 Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) in San Francisco this week. One of the slides during Chu’s presentation reads: ‘No positional tracking (…yet)’. It’s far from confirmation that support for tracking is coming, although Samsung itself has said that Gear VR will see annual updates similar to its other products. Perhaps this could be added in later iterations?

Positional tracking allows DK2 users to physically move their head in any direction in a VR experience. It’s a crucial feature of convincing VR and something that’s sorely lacking from Gear VR itself. As can be seen at SDC this, a third-party solution to positional tracking with Gear VR is coming from Sixense and its STEM System motion controllers. VRFocus was impressed with this technology when it was tested earlier today, although it’s hard to deny that official integration is the more compelling solution to this problem.

Gear VR was given an early December 2014 release window at SDC. The kit will be launching with a free store at first in which users can download demos and other experiences. A full premium store is expected to launch later down the line. VRFocus will continue to follow Gear VR, reporting back with any further updates on the product’s development.