Taking a virtual roller coaster ride at the recent World Mobile Congress in Barcelona: Samsung pulled all the stops to show off its new Gear Virtual Reality headset, giving visitors the full immersive experience, complete with moving seats.
Powered by Facebook-owned Oculus, the headset is to be accessible to every smartphone owner.
“There is definitely a lot, many more things we can do,” said Jean-Daniel Ayme, vice-president of Samsung Europe. “Not only with our phones, but all the ‘eco-system’ that is building around the phone. We have seen a lot of new applications for virtual reality, in education, in training, in sales… but there will be more, it’s just the start.”
2016 will see the release of VR headsets by a number of major manufacturers, including Taiwanese phone maker HTC. Its new Vive platform offers a surprisingly realistic experience in the virtual world.
“We use laser tracking,” explains Jon Goddard, head of marketing at HTC Europe. “So through the use of two base stations, that come in the box along with the unit control and the headset, laser tracking allows you to have a 360° room scale experience, which means you can walk around the room.”
The technology comes at a cost, however, with the HTC headset, for example, costing a whopping 900 euros... and you still need the PC to go with it.
But VR will certainly have many more applications than just gaming in the future: “I think developers will work out in really clever ways how to translate VR into beneficial, real world applications,” said Jon Goddard. “So, that could be something like a simulator that allows surgeons to practice in virtual reality or to train people to do dangerous jobs, maybe deep sea diving or something else.”
With virtual reality on course to become a $1 billion global business, the race is definitely on for manufacturers to get ahead and come up with the most efficient and competitive offer.