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Carmack on Gear VR: ‘we want people to be in VR for hours at a time’

Last year saw the US launch of Gear VR, Samsung and Oculus VR’s smartphone-based virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display. Despite being available to consumers it’s clear that device is far from finished, with both companies noting that several improvements will have to be made before they are happy with branding the device as consumer-ready. One such issue is the length of time that players can use Gear VR before the restraints of the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone with which it runs becomes an issue. That’s something that Oculus VR’s John Carmack has labelled a ‘significant issue’ for the technology.

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Carmack said as much in a recent interview with Fortune. “The only significant issue we’re facing right now with mobile devices is not peak hours, but how long they can sustain VR running at large fractions of that power,” he explained. “While we will continue to need mobile systems that get faster and faster with more and more cores and wider and wider GPUs. It’s fine right now if you want the short 15-minute experiences that offer a lot of interesting stuff. But looking ahead, we want people to be in VR for hours at a time. There are some significant challenges that we have to face there.”

Issues such as this will likely be addressed in future iterations of Gear VR and other compatible smartphones instead of in this initial release, which is branded as an ‘Innovator’s Edition’. It’s for reasons such as this that the HMD is strictly meant for developers and VR enthusiasts only. The kit is also yet to receive a premium store, with only free experiences such as demos and videos available right now. The option to charge for content is expected to arrive later on this year as is a launch outside of the US.

VRFocus will continue to follow Gear VR’s progress closely, reporting back with any further updates on the HMD.