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Samsung explores virtual reality market with Gear VR Innovator Edition

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Together with the Note 4 and Note Edge launch today, Samsung introduced the Gear VR Innovator, a virtual reality head unit developed together with Oculus.

Powered by the Galaxy Note 4 — the device sits in the headunit and functions as a display — the Gear VR is the result of a collaborative effort between Samsung and Oculus, and the device promises to offer a completely new way to experience mobile content — essentially, the Gear VR is a Galaxy Note 4 holder that you wear on your head but with a lot more sophistication built in.

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The Gear VR is powered by the new Oculus Mobile SDK, and also uses variations of the Oculus Tracker and firmware built into the headset for accurate, ultra low-latency 3DOF tracking. Oculus and Samsung have worked together very closely to deliver a high quality mobile experience through deep end-to-end hardware, software, and firmware optimization.

Along with Gear VR, Oculus is also launching with four new applications: Oculus Home, Oculus Cinema, Oculus 360 Videos and Oculus 360 Photos.

Oculus Home is a simple interface for connecting to the Oculus Store, where you can discover, download, and launch VR content.

Oculus Cinema is a virtual movie theater, where you can playback your favorite 2D and 3D movies in a variety of theater environments.

Oculus 360 Videos and Oculus 360 Photos are experiences that allow you to playback panoramic content in VR.

Oculus say, the Gear VR Innovator Edition is an early-access, beta-version of the device for developers and enthusiasts rather than a final consumer product. The creators encourage content creators to experiment and build totally new experiences while users explore what the device can offer.

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While the potential of VR is interesting, we’re not sure if it’s something that will catch on. The Samsung Gear VR is powered by a smartphone and therein lies some issues — for example when being used as a VR display, phone calls and other notifications are disabled, is that something the user would like? Heat buildup from the Note 4 is also and acknowledged challenge. Another issue is content, other than watching movies up close, will developers jump on board and create games for the platform?

Some users may be ok with not taking a call or a message when their gaming but without a solid list of content and games, there’s very little ground on which the Gear VR can stand on. We certainly like the idea and if priced right, many will be curious enough to purchase it just for the novelty but how far will the Gear VR go after the novelty wears out? That is something only time will be able to tell.

Expect the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition to be available later this year for enthusiasts and developers.