Samsung have chosen IFA 2014 as event to unveil some seriously cool new products including the new Galaxy Note 4, the Galaxy Edge and the new Gear S smart watch. However, one of the most incredible devices you will encouter this week has to be the Samsung Galaxy VR, a virtual reality headset that borrows a great deal from the Oculus Rift concept, and works in combination with the new Galaxy Note 4.
The Galaxy VR is a headset that looks to finally bring virtual reality headsets to the masses. After just twominutes with the device at an early hands on session, Roland and I were literally discussing just how people are going to react to seeing the VR in action. On a subway train, bus or any public place, are we now goingto see people turning their heads around to 360 degrees during 3D gameplay? Or when watching 3D movies? The immediate impact of the demonstration was very impressive, to say the least.
If you want a clearer idea of what the Samsung Galaxy VR is all about, check out our hands on video sot on the show floor at IFA 2014:
The Galaxy VR is similar in size to what we would expect from a standard VR headset that you may have seen on the Oculus Rift, but in terms of the technology inside it, the device has no serious technology except a pair of lenses, some navigation buttons and track pads on the top right side edge and an internal USB 2.0 port. First you simply remove the front plastic cover which is ostensibly used just to hide the fact that inside you have the Galaxy Note 4, which clicks easily into place, connecting to the headset via the integrated USB port. The front cover also makes the device look much cooler.
Once the Note 4 is in place, you don the headset, there are adjustable straps on the side and across the top to make sure that it stays in place. The experience once you are looking through the two lens is not anything like what you are used to seeing on the Note 4 smartphone or indeed any smartphone. A simple menu offers you a choice of games, 3D video content and more, this is navigable via the aforementioned small touchpad area on the right side of the device (similar in some ways to navigation on Google Glass). There is also a back button which allows you get around, but the coolest way to navigate is by simply moving your head. A small cursor or dot will move around the simple UI as you move your head and look around – so essentially all you have to do looks at the content or game you want to open then tap to select.
We looked at a 3D video that makes you feel like you are truly inside the video itself. The viewer is sitting on the edge of the stage during the rehearsal of Cirque du Soleil. Aside from the feeling very close to the characters in the scene, you can also turn your head to see a old man sweeping the floor behind the seats of the auditorium – very spooky, but impressively so.
The next demo was an interactive game where the user controls a space ship that is flying through an asteroid belt. The front mounted guns of the space shuttle plus the direction of the shuttle are controlled by the way you are looking, the guns fired by tapping the side of the headset. It was enjoyable for a or so, but not much more.
The Samsung Galaxy VR is an ambitious project that may not actually reach too man households, but it prove to be a valuable step on the road to effective and ubiquitous virtual reality.