In just under the space on one year Samsung and Oculus VR will have released 3 versions of their Gear VR mobile virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD). The original Innovator’s Edition, which supported the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, hit the US back in December 2014, with a new version featuring the Galaxy S6 arriving earlier this year. In just 2 months’ time in November 2015 a consumer version of the device will also be arriving. That’s an astonishingly rapid release cycle, so why bring the consumer version to market so soon?
“We felt that the timing was right,” Samsung’s Directors of Immersive Products Jim Willson and Tom Harding said in a recent interview with Gamasutra. The site also mentioned that the pair felt like the product was now truly consumer-ready. “And that was a collaboration between Samsung and Oculus,” the pair added. Elsewhere they highlighted how Gear VR creators ‘a perfect storm’ using the company’s CPU, GPU and AMOLED display that will give consumers ‘access to all of these amazing 360 experiences’.
The consumer version of the Gear VR is set to retail for just $99 USD – $100 less than the innovator editions – and works with all of Samsung’s 2015 smartphones. The kit isn’t significantly redesigned from the original versions, but is lighter and features an improved touch pad. Oculus VR itself is preparing plenty of new content for the device, including an arcade simulation experience named Oculus Arcade that will allow players to sample classic videogames such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Pac-Man within virtual arcade cabinets. The company even surprised those watching its Oculus Connect 2 keynote speech last week by announcing that Netflix was coming to (and has now arrived on) the device.
VRFocus will continue to follow Gear VR closely, reporting back with any further updates on the device.