It seems that the rumored Samsung virtual reality headset that first surfaced in online reports last week has a familiar VR name. Engadget is now reporting that Samsung is working with Oculus on a deal that will benefit both companies as they take very different paths to a head-mounted display future.
Samsung is primarily interested in Oculus for its software, according to the report, particularly the mobile virtual reality software development kit (SDK) it developed with the help of Oculus CTO John Carmack. Oculus is interested in Samsung for “next-gen high-pixel-density OLED displays,” which will reportedly power the consumer version of its own Rift headset at resolutions higher than 1080p
Oculus’ mobile SDK, meanwhile, will reportedly enable a VR experience that runs directly on Samsung phones – either “a new version of the GS5” or possibly its successor. The phone will serve as the VR screen and processor for the experience, aligning Samsung’s reported plans with some attempts to use smartphones as the basis for a completely wireless VR headset. Samsung’s effort reportedly differs from many of these projects by connecting to the phone via a wired connection to the head-mounted unit, which will have its own motion tracking accelerometer and processor, offloading some processing from the phone .
Users will also reportedly be able to use Android button functions such as Home, Back, and Recent Apps via headset buttons, and will be able to use the rear-facing camera on the back of the phone for some limited augmented reality functionality (although latency on the camera is probably too big for extended use).
While the Oculus mobile SDK is still in the very early stages of development, it’s reportedly already yielding some very basic demos that integrate motion-based “buckling” controls. Samsung reportedly doesn’t see gaming as the primary focus of the device – other media and apps are just as important to the mobile giant – and it hasn’t even found a basic control interface for its own VR experiences yet. That makes it quite different from the Oculus Rift, which is still pitched as a gaming-focused device despite being adapted for many other uses.
As reported, the partnership between Oculus and Samsung is definitely the odd one out, but it’s something that could be beneficial to both companies as they approach the VR future from different directions.