Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Samsung, Oculus Expect 'Consumer Level' Gear VR By Year's End

The pairing of virtual reality company Oculus and telecommunications giant Samsung made big headlines last year when the two announced a joint venture dubbed the Gear VR “Innovator Edition”. The collaboration between the two companies involved using some of Oculus' own technology featured in their Oculus Rift headset coupled with Samsung's Galaxy series smartphones to provide users a virtual reality experience without wires or the need for a PC.

The launch of the device sparked much interest even though the devices carried the “Innovator Edition” label, which is similar to a beta tag. This was a concession made between Samsung and Oculus after the phone company wanted to “productize” the hardware while Oculus said it wasn’t ready.These 'beta' products are current available to the general public, but don't carry the full fledged 'consumer' tag, meaning they don't carry all the bells and whistles Oculus and Samsung intend to add the the finished product.

Good news though, during a speech at this year's Game Developers Conference Oculus VR CTO John Carmack took the stage to discuss the Gear VR headset, and he revealed that Oculus and Samsung will release a consumer version of the mobile virtual-reality device before the end of this year.

The new Gear VR 'Consumer Edition' will launch alongside the next line of Galaxy products from Samsung most likely in the Fall. Which could place it alongside the next Samsung Galaxy Note launch. This should give developers some time to prepare software for the launch. Carmack aslo revealed that this consumer product will come with a major media campaign from Samsung that will include commercials and other kinds of promotions.

"We have a plan, we have a date," Carmack said. "Oculus is going to go as hard as we can, to sell as many units as possible, to unleash the full marketing power of Samsung with the next edition of Gear VR."

Virtually reality has been a hop topic over the past several months with many major players joining Samsung and Oculus to announce their own offerings into the market. In just the last year, companies ranging from Sony and Microsoft to tiny startups have announced their plans to build virtual reality devices. Even smartphone makers like HTC and game makers such as Valve have unveiled prototypes.

More from John Carmack at GDC via Ars Technica

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