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Samsung preparing Oculus Rift alternative, utilizes Galaxy devices

If a new report proves correct, Samsung is preparing to release its own Oculus Rift alternative, bringing us a virtual reality experience powered by popular Galaxy phones and tablets.
May 22, 2014
Oculus Rift CES 2014-2

While Samsung is rarely first to the party with an idea, it’s not afraid to try new things and that includes pushing into product categories that haven’t fully taken off. It was the spirit of trying something a bit different that led to the successful Note series and the S-Pen, and it’s that same spirit that has led Samsung to attempt to gain acceptance in the smartwatch market. Aside from this, rumors also suggest that Samsung is preparing its own Glass alternative.

For Samsung, the next frontier revolves around virtual reality

So what else can we expect from Samsung in the not-too-distant future? According to “sources close to Samsung” reporting to Engadget, the next frontier revolves around virtual reality. In other words, Samsung is looking to take on Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s Morpheus project. In fact, they are even reportedly working full-speed-ahead in order to beat both of these products to a wider commercial launch.

It wouldn’t be Samsung if there wasn’t tight integration with other Sammy products, and so the VR headset is said to utilize an existing Samsung tablet or smartphone in order to work. While the sources don’t say specifically, it is likely that the headset uses a wired connection in order to minimize the possibility of lag that could break the illusion of virtual reality and even make users sick.

It’s unclear what kind of technology the VR headset is packing outside of this, though it is using an OLED screen. It’s also unclear whether it can track your head movement or not, though we wouldn’t be too surprised if the final product tries to implement this sort of technology.

Samsung Brand Shots CES 2014-4

What all might we expect from a commercial Samsung VR headset?

If the rumors are true, we know such a handset will be released sooner rather than latter, perhaps as soon as late this year. We also know that the handset will probably utilize Samsung Android devices, as opposed to self-contained Android-powered hardware. Furthermore, the sources suggest that only the latest-gen hardware will work with the device — perhaps the Note 4 and beyond? Obviously that’s just speculation on our part.

Samsung's VR device will reportedly offer more aggressive pricing than Sony or Oculus

Probably the most interesting thing about a potential Galaxy VR, however, is that it will reportedly have more aggressive pricing than Sony or Oculus. Considering these development kits have hit around or under $500, that means Samsung could be looking somewhere around the $250 – $400 price range — which would be awesome.

As for the games such a VR headset would play? Considering the headset’s reliance on Android, the obvious answer is Android games. That said, these games would need to be optimized for the Samsung Galaxy VR (or whatever Samsung might call it…). Hopefully Samsung would adopt an approach somewhat similar to the Nvidia Shield, where they make exclusive partnerships in order to push games with the best graphics possible (Portal, Half-Life 2, etc).

As long as the VR device has a gaming experience that’s more compelling than Angry Birds VR, I know I’d be curious to give such a product a try. Just remember that all of this is a rumor at this stage. Even if the rumor is true, there’s a chance Samsung could end up scrapping, redesigning or could otherwise delay the release of such a product.

What do you think, like the idea of a Samsung-made VR headset? Can Samsung find success in virtual reality, or are they merely throwing things against the wall again to see what will stick?