Samsung's work on an extended reality (XR) headset has been unveiled as images and specifications of a prototype were leaked online. The details were initially shared by a Chinese tech site, Vrtuoluo, but were subsequently removed.
Key Features and Design
The prototype of the Samsung XR headset is equipped with four outward-facing tracking cameras, likely used for positional tracking. Additionally, it incorporates dual RGB cameras for color pass-through and a depth sensor for hand and environmental tracking. The design includes OLED microdisplays and pancake lenses, resulting in a slim visor appearance.
Interestingly, the headset is powered by Samsung's Exynos 2200 chip, diverging from the commonly used Qualcomm XR chipset. The Exynos 2200 has previously faced criticism for overheating issues in smartphones. It's yet to be determined how this chip will perform under extended XR workloads.
Unlike some of its competitors, the Samsung prototype does not come with dedicated motion controllers. Instead, it seems to rely on hand and eye-tracking inputs.
Expected Launch, Pricing, and Competition
Samsung is reportedly aiming for a mid-2024 release as they continue to refine the XR headset to compete with compete with Apple's Vision Pro headset. The device is expected to operate on an Android-based XR software platform. While the final specifications might undergo changes, the leaked details offer a glimpse into Samsung's aspirations for the XR headset.
The estimated price for a potential consumer version ranges between $1500-$2000. This is notably lower than Apple's Vision Pro headset, which is priced at $3500. The Apple Vision Pro, unveiled at WWDC 2023, allows users to interact with apps while simultaneously viewing the real world.
Samsung's History in AR/VR
This isn't Samsung's initial venture into the AR/VR domain. In 2015, they introduced the Gear VR headset, which required a secondary device to function as an internal display.
The Gear VR uses a compatible Samsung Galaxy device as its display and processor. The Gear VR itself acts as the controller, providing the field of view and a custom inertial measurement unit (IMU) for rotational tracking. The device connects to the smartphone via USB-C or micro-USB. The Gear VR is designed to work with several of Samsung's flagship smartphones, including the Galaxy S6 series, Galaxy S7 series, Galaxy S8 series, and more. However, newer models like the Galaxy Note10 and its variants are not supported by the Gear VR.
Samsung's journey into VR began much earlier than the Gear VR's release. In January 2005, Samsung obtained a patent on a head-mounted display (HMD) that proposed using a mobile phone as the display. With the release of the Galaxy S4 in 2013, Samsung formed an official team dedicated to developing a VR device compatible with a smartphone. In 2014, Samsung partnered with Oculus to further the development of the Gear VR.