Samsung and Oculus VR have confirmed that their joint project to create a virtual reality headset add-on for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will bear fruit in December, in the US at least, with two bundles available at launch.
Samsung has been working with Facebook-owned Oculus VR for some time, supplying the displays - which are actually surplus Galaxy Note 4 panels - for the company's Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality headset. Earlier this year the companies announced a deeper partnership which would see Oculus VR add support for a new device called the Samsung Gear VR to its software stack. Rather than a full-feature head-mounted display like the Oculus Rift itself, the Gear VR is designed for use with a Galaxy Note 4 smartphone: clip it into the front and it acts as the display while also using its own internal sensors to provide head-tracking capabilities.
A joint announcement between the two companies has confirmed that the Gear VR will launch in an early form, dubbed the Innovator Edition, in December this year. At launch, US customers will be able to pick up a version of the headset on its own for $199 or bundled with a Bluetooth-connected gamepad controller for $249. Neither bundle includes a Galaxy Note 4 handset, which will have to be purchased separately.
While Samsung is taking pre-registration for the device
, Oculus VR has warned that, like its own developer kits, the Innovator Edition won't be a product for all. 'The Innovator Edition, much like the Oculus Rift Development Kit, provides developers and enthusiasts everything they need to build and experiment with the platform before the hardware and software are ready for consumers,
' the company explained in an announcement
late last night.
The company did, however, promise that several made-for-VR applications will be launching in the coming months with full support for the Gear VR running on a Galaxy Note 4, while bundled software dubbed Oculus Home will provide a three-dimensional user interface. These apps will be supported by the Oculus Mobile Software Development Kit, released last night in an early form, which is currently exclusive to the Gear VR and comes with the source code for a trio of applications - Oculus 360 Photos, Oculus 360 Videos, and Oculus Cinema - along with integration with the Unity 4.5 game engine.
Oculus VR has indicated that it is working with Samsung on international availability of the Gear VR, but there are no launch dates yet available.
Separately, Samsung announced Project Beyond: a camera designed to take 360-degree video for playback on the Gear VR and other compatible virtual reality devices. Physical prototypes exist, and the footage will be made available to Gear VR users, but the company has not yet indicated whether it will release the Beyond camera system as a commercial product. For the curious, a teaser video is embedded below.