For a while, virtual reality has been a product of enthusiasts and developers. But Samsung and Oculus have partnered to announce the Gear VR, a mobile virtual reality headset. It's consumer-grade wear priced at a reasonable $99 and can be used with any of Samsung's 2015 line of smartphones (the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6 edge +, S6, and S6 edge).
The capabilities of virtual reality are really beginning to come together in exciting ways, says Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. Virtual reality as an innovation is ready to take the leap from enthusiasts to consumer-grade technology.
"A number of technologies [are] coming together: infinite computing, very cheap high-resolution cameras, machine-learning capabilities, low-latency/high-bandwidth networks. All of these things are coming together to reinvent the virtual world experience."
By the end of 2015, we might see VR come into the consumer spotlight thanks to the Gear VR. It has price going for it as well as accessibility — Samsung does own 26 percent of the mobile phone market share, second only to Apple. The next piece is developer support, which includes software in the form of games and movies, and the Gear VR has both of those boxes checked with three games set to launch as “made for the Gear VR” and partnerships with Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, and many others.
Some movie studios are even converting their films to fit VR. However, they probably won't be as immersive as we'd like. But the British firm Alchemy VR seems to be working on a virtual reality natural history film with the voice from Planet Earth, David Attenborough.
Oculus and Samsung have done something here: taking VR and making it an accessory for your phone. So long as you have a current Samsung smartphone, VR is as attainable as buying a $99 headset. There's a chance virtual reality might actually go mainstream.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
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