As much as I think it’s cool, VR is not the mainstream tech that it could be. Hardware is too expensive and good software isn’t abundant enough. Plus, there’s the whole pesky problem of people finding that they don’t enjoy being isolated in a virtual prison of their own making. On the flip side, augmented reality apps like Pokemon GO and hardware like Microsoft’s Hololens continue to spark the public’s imagination. It’s similar tech, but the familiar glow of the outside world could be a great gateway into virtual delights. That’s why it’s refreshing to hear that Samsung is exploring adding augmented reality to their next virtual reality endeavor.
Samsung is already a leader in the VR industry. Their Gear VR headset was the first taste many received of the technology in 2015. Their Odyssey PC helmet is one of the most advanced Windows Mixed Reality devices. In addition, they’re pushing forward all the time. The second iteration of the Odyssey features an updated display that tries to eliminate what’s known as the screen door effect. Basically, when looking through a lower tech headset, you can perceive that your viewpoint is through a screen. If you bump up the resolution high enough (or you fake it well enough), that goes away. When you can no longer see the barriers, the tech becomes that much more immersive.
For their next outing, the rumors say that Samsung will combine that knowledge with the world of augmented reality. This is already up and running in a prototype according to Samsung’s CEO. Speaking in an interview with Lowyat.net, Dong Jin Koh states that the combined device “really delivers a much better experience with that combination.”
Whatever this next product ends up being, it will probably also be a standalone headset. Competing directly with Oculus’ Quest, taking VR away from the computer requirement seems like a must. While it’s assumed that Samsung’s new device will be priced slightly higher than the Quest, here’s hoping that number keeps going down. In order to truly succeed, AR or VR, this tech needs to be affordable. You’re not going to convince Joe Schmoe to spend $600 to play Job Simulator, even with the funny robot.