At today’s Oculus Connect 2 keynote, Samsung’s Peter Koo was on hand to announce a new device that the company plans to launch later this year. Last year, Samsung and Oculus collaborated on the Gear VR headset, and the new release will be an updated version of that product.
Koo made the object of Samsung’s partnership with Oculus clearer than ever, stating that the new version of the Gear VR aims to “take virtual reality mainstream.” To that end, the device will launch at the potentially market-disrupting price of $99.
The headset will be compatible with all of Samsung’s flagship smartphones — a group that includes the Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, and the S6 Edge Plus. The intent here is obviously to give as broad an audience as possible an affordable gateway into the burgeoning world of virtual reality.
Other improvements upon the first iteration of the Gear VR include a 22% reduction in weight, achieved as part of a larger effort to make the headset more comfortable. Ergonomic appeal looks set to be one of the biggest challenges that VR as a whole faces on its journey towards mainstream adoption, and so it’s smart for resources to be concentrated on this aspect of the device.
For Oculus to succeed in making virtual reality more than a novelty, the masses will need to be introduced to the tech without the hefty price point associated with the Rift. As such, an entry level device such as this could prove to be a very powerful tool in convincing people that this is more than just a fad.
The first batch of content set to be launched for the Gear VR was also detailed. Oculus Arcade will allow users to experience classic games in a virtual arcade setting. Meanwhile, Oculus Video will offer virtual implementations of Netflix and Twitch, as well as partnerships with companies like Facebook and studios like 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate.
The new Gear VR headset is anticipated to launch for $99 in November of this year.