Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023
Oculus CTO John Carmack speaks at the Game Developers Conference.

Oculus CTO John Carmack speaks at the Game Developers Conference.

SAN FRANCISCO – At the Game Developers Conference today, Oculus CTO John Carmack announced that the Gear VR would be ready to transition from the confusing “innovator edition” branding and distribution for Gear VR to a full consumer model alongside the next Samsung product cycle . expected “around the end of the year.”

“We have a plan, we have a date,” Carmack said. “Oculus is going as hard as we can, to sell as many units as possible, to unleash Samsung’s full marketing power with the next edition of Gear VR.”

While the upcoming consumer unit sounds like it will work exclusively with Samsung’s next mobile handset, Carmack said its release would come with a sort of “re-unlocking of sales and promotion” from the previous Gear VR units. That sounds like Samsung will also be pushing consumer-oriented Gear VR units for the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S6, but those plans were still unclear in Carmack’s speech.

Carmack warned that while Oculus has a plan, part of the device line’s future rests with Samsung, which could decide to flip VR whenever it wants – “Oculus can’t twist Samsung’s arm,” as Carmack put it. expressed . That said, the plan is expected to go ahead “barring a calamity”.

Carmack urged the public not to expect anything “radically different” from the eventual consumer-level Gear VR; “it will be essentially the same” as current Innovator Edition Gear VR sets. The consumer version should have better optics, thanks to what he said the research team expects to be a “breakthrough” in VR lenses rendering images perfectly no matter where the user is looking.

The consumer unit will also “hopefully” have better ergonomics, Carmack said, and “better top-end performance.” “reasonable target platform for when consumer VR goes broad.”

Carmack said he envisioned a point in the future where every cell phone store in the world would have a Gear VR demo station running high-end Samsung phones. He predicted that these kinds of demos would “move tons [units],” because virtual reality is much more immediate than the “gimmicks” used to set most phones apart from the competition.

The author shows off the current Gear VR
Enlarge / The author shows the current Gear VR “Innovator Edition”.

Elsewhere in his lengthy GDC talk, Carmack expressed some surprise that the response to the existing “Innovator Edition” Gear VR was as good as it was, given technical limitations such as a 60Hz refresh rate and a lack of full head or body graphics. tracking. . He described the internal conflict between Samsung and Oculus over whether the hardware was at a level ready for wide release – Samsung thought it was ready, Oculus was more cautious.

However, when the Innovator Edition came out, “something funny happened – people like it,” Carmack said. “Looking back, the hardware Samsung developed probably could have gone too far [as a full consumer product].”

Carmack said he sees mobile VR as a major “infection vector” for the idea of ​​virtual reality, the kind of thing you can take on vacation and pass through a room, rather than showing off in a “VR cave” on your high-end PC. “The most fun thing you can do with Gear VR is show it to other people,” said Carmack, citing a compliment from an unnamed magazine. “Each Gear VR has probably been on ten people’s heads.”

While Oculus is still looking for tethered, high-end PC-based headsets, Carmack said he’s very optimistic that the mobile side of the company’s development has the potential to reach the “one billion user” cliché. just as mobile phones have already done. “There’s no way a PC or a game console will end up being the path people end up on” for that extreme level of global consumer penetration, Carmack said. “The VR headset of our dreams has no wires, but it’s not here now and won’t be for a while.”

Carmack foresees many people getting into mobile VR for reasons other than games. He noted that his 70-year-old mother takes the Gear VR and uses it to view panoramic photos that she takes with a special camera. Those potential consumers will “come for different things, but they’ll find games there as the platform evolves,” Carmack said.

By akfire1

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