Samsung is kickstarting its push into virtual reality with a crazy live streaming service that will get users real-time 360-degree video feeds from festivals and other memorable places around the world. These live streams are being recorded by Project Beyond, a new 360 degree camera that the company has been developing in its labs to bring a kind of live streaming experience to the Gear VR. Project Beyond includes 16 cameras that can capture immersive videos in 3-D. “This is not just a concept. It’s a fully working device,” said Samsung VP of Research Pranav Mistry, adding: “We are planning to take it all around the world.”
Samsung first introduced the Gear VR in cooperation with Oculus at a press event in September, when it also unveiled the Galaxy Note 4 hadset. Gear VR is based on technology also used in the Oculus Rift, but uses the Galaxy Note 4 as a screen, which allows the device to be completely mobile. Samsung VP of Immersive Products and Virtual Reality Nick DiCarlo announced Wednesday that the Gear VR headset will start selling in December, and the company opened up pre-registration for the device on its website Wednesday. DiCarlo didn’t give any details on pricing, but the gear VR will reportedly sell for $200.
DiCarlo also hinted at Samsung developing additional headsets for new and future Samsung headsets. “Gear VR is really just the beginning,” he said.
The idea to use mobile phones for VR isn’t entirely new: Makeshift VR goggles that use phones as screens and for connectivity have been around for a couple of years, and Google poked a little fun at the concept by releasing its Cardboard DIY VR set at its Google IO developer conference earlier this year. However, the Gear VR not only makes use of the Galaxy Note 4’s OLED screen, which is fast enough not to cause dizziness during head motion, but also combines the phone with sensors in the headset itself that are more responsive that sensors commonly found in phones.
Samsung’s VR efforts also benefit from a close cooperation with Oculus, which released its mobile VR SDK to developers Wednesday.