Samsung Dishes Release Date, Dev Kit for Gear VR Headset

Posted by at 9:02 am on November 13, 2014

Gear VR Innovator EditionDuring the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC 2014) today, the South Korean electronics company officially announced that the first wave of Gear VR headsets are coming to the market. Consumers looking forward to getting their hands on the smartphone-powered virtual reality (VR) device can look forward to a sale day in early December.

While the release is coming in about a month, Samsung will be launching in the US first as the Gear VR Innovator Edition “powered by Oculus.” The same device was first mentioned at the beginning of September, when the company confirmed the rumored device and Oculus VR’s involvement. Samsung still requires a Galaxy Note 4 to power the Gear VR headset, using its 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED screen to create the visual experience.

The specifications for the Gear VR don’t appear to have changed much, but there is no longer a mention of a 16GB MicroSD card coming in the box with pre-loaded software and images. The headset has accelerator, geomagnetic, gyrometer and proximity sensors, with a motion-to-photon latency that’s less than 20ms. A low-latency of at least 20ms is what is required for spatial immersion or “presence,” for the translations from head movement to screen according to Oculus VR. The 0.83-pound Gear VR features a 96-degree field of view, along with adjustments for nearsighted and farsighted eyes. It still requires the Note 4 to connect via Micro USB, then using the touchpad, back button and volume button to make changes or access programs.

“Samsung is excited to launch our first virtual reality experience, Gear VR Innovator Edition. We are looking forward to working with developers and partners on building amazing, accessible virtual reality experiences that help bring the immersion of VR mainstream over the coming months and years,” said Vice President and General Manager of Immersive Products and Virtual Reality Nick DiCarlo. “Samsung is pleased to be joining the VR community, and will continuously endeavor to bring the next big thing in virtual reality.”

The Oculus Mobile SDK is launching now, for developers interested in developing applications and experiences for the Gear VR Innovator Edition. The VR device already has software in place, with Samsung and Oculus VR working with several partners to have experiences ready by launch. Experiences include an act from Cirque du Soleil Media’s Zarkana, DreamWorks character interactions, and Harmonix Music VR for a “fully immersive, musically responsive environment.”

Leveraging Samsung’s partnership with Marvel, a virtual look at Tony Stark’s lab in the Avengers Tower is available as well. Several pieces of software will download automatically when the Note 4 is connected to the Gear VR, including Oculus Home, Oculus Store, Oculus Cinema, and Oculus 360 Videos and Photos.

The date of the release coincides with an information leak in October that placed the release of the Gear VR as December 1 In South Korea, according to internal training documents. However, it appears that the US version could launch on the same date or shortly thereafter.

Price wasn’t mentioned in the news from Samsung, but in September a company spokesperson said the Gear VR would sell for $199. Pricing of the Korean version is 200,000 won ($183) per the leaked documents, putting it in the same price range as the spokesperson suggested at New York Fashion Week. The price doesn’t include the Galaxy Note 4.

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