Samsung Gear: VR Arsenal Gets Bigger
In an effort to transform the technological curiosity into a cultural phenomenon, Virtual reality specialist Oculus, is trying to amaze consumers by adding more entertainment and educational options to the Samsung Gear headset.
In the Wednesday announcement, the selections include “Nomads,” a three-dimensional video series from Felix & Paul Studios that look at wayfaring lifestyles in secluded parts of the world. There’s also an upcoming video game called “Tactera” that requires players to plot a battlefield strategy on a holographic tabletop, and another 360-degree video called “6X9” providing a grim look of what the experience is like to be locked in a prison’s solitary confinement cell.
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These will add to a menu of over 250 apps designed for the Gear VR since its consumer model was out about six months ago. Of course, that is a small amount compared to the millions of apps available for the iPhone and devices running on the Android operating system.
The devices that build an arsenal of persuasive apps most often are easier to sell to consumers. However, programmers often put little attention to designing apps for devices until they have built a large audience.
That is yet to be seen with the Gear, though Oculus says it is winning over fans faster than expectations when the headset enter into the market just before last year’s holiday shopping season. Closed to 1 million people used the Gear VR last month for an average of 25 minutes per day, according to Oculus. Nearly 80 percent of the time was spent watching video.
Samsung made the Gear for its most recent smartphones with the aid of Oculus, a little-known bought by Facebook for $2 billion two years ago to help introduce virtual reality to the masses.
“Oculus can help people experience anything, anywhere,” boasted Max Cohen, the company’s head of mobile. “We think this (technology) can actually change people’s lives.”
The idea of virtual reality has been around for years, but has never taken off.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO believes it is ordained to become technology’s next big breakthrough, and other influential trendsetters Google and Apple are now scrambling to catch up in the still-nascent field. Google will be unveiling a virtual-reality device next week at its annual developers conference in the next step beyond its simple product called “Cardboard” that works with smartphones.
The Gear was a leader to a more superior virtual-reality headset called the Rift that costs $600 and needs a connection to a high-powered computer. The Rift started shipping about two months ago, although many buyers are yet to receive the headset because of delays that Oculus has attached to parts shortages.
In this case, users of the Gear only need a set of headphones and one of these Samsung phones: the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus or Note 5. In an attempt to make it easier to get something to watch and play on the Gear, Oculus is about to release a new version of its app for the device in the coming month.
As it turns out, the Gear VR is becoming an assemblage of apps for the Rift. Over 20 of the games originally designed for the Gear are also compatible with the Rift.
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