Samsung is gearing up to make a significant entry into the extended reality (XR) hardware market with its upcoming headset, set to launch in late 2024. This move marks a pivotal moment in the world of virtual reality, as Samsung, a renowned electronics giant, partners with tech giants Google and Qualcomm to bring innovation to the forefront of XR experiences.
The Long-Awaited Arrival
After months of anticipation and speculation, South Korean newspaper The JoongAng recently reported Samsung's plans to unveil its XR headset in the latter half of 2024. The official launch is scheduled for December, with an initial limited release of only 30,000 units. While Samsung has shared its intentions with developers, it's worth noting that these plans could evolve as the company delves into its first standalone XR headset venture.
OLED Microdisplays: A Game-Changer
One of the standout features of Samsung's XR headset is its utilization of OLED microdisplays, a technology that offers groundbreaking advantages for XR experiences. Samsung's acquisition of the American OLED microdisplay company eMagin earlier this year serves as a testament to the company's commitment to strengthening its XR-related business. These microdisplays not only enable compact headset designs but also deliver significantly higher resolutions compared to traditional LCD panels, promising a visually immersive XR journey.
A Triumvirate of Tech Titans
Samsung's journey into XR hardware is not a solitary endeavor. The tech giant has joined forces with Google and Qualcomm to create a new generation of XR experiences. Google, with its expertise in system software, is set to provide a custom variant of Android to power the headset. On the other hand, Qualcomm's cutting-edge chipset will serve as the technological backbone, ensuring seamless performance and high-quality visuals.
A Timeline of XR Progress
The path leading to the late 2024 launch of Samsung's XR headset has been marked by significant milestones and revelations. In December of the previous year, South Korean news outlet ETNews reported that Samsung had been actively developing prototypes and planned to send samples to developers in 2023. The official announcement came in February, where Samsung confirmed its foray into XR with Google and Qualcomm as key partners.
Delays and Redesigns
As the XR landscape continued to evolve, Samsung encountered challenges that prompted delays and redesigns in response to competitors' offerings. The reveal of Apple Vision Pro, which exceeded expectations, led Samsung to reconsider its design and features to remain competitive in this rapidly advancing field.
While Samsung has been tight-lipped about the pricing of its XR headset, speculations suggest it could be priced around $2000. However, this remains unconfirmed, and the final pricing details will likely be revealed closer to the launch date.
Samsung's History in VR
Samsung's journey into virtual reality has been a fascinating one. It initially partnered with Facebook in 2014 to introduce the phone-based Gear VR headset, which was among the first mass-market VR products. However, by 2019, the Gear VR faced its demise as standalone headsets like Oculus Go and Oculus Quest gained prominence. The year 2020 marked the formal abandonment of Gear VR by Facebook.
In 2017, Samsung ventured into the Windows PC VR headset market with the Odyssey and its successor, the Odyssey+. These headsets featured OLED displays, similar to the original Oculus Quest and HTC Vive Pro. Although Samsung received a patent for a successor in 2020, no product materialized.
The success of Meta's Quest, advancements in computer vision, and Apple's Vision Pro announcement may have reignited Samsung's interest in XR, now with a focus on standalone headsets.
The Future of XR
As Samsung, Google, and Qualcomm collaborate to bring their vision of XR to life, the future of extended reality is looking promising. With OLED microdisplays, powerful chipsets, and an extensive history in the tech industry, Samsung's XR headset has the potential to make a significant impact on the XR market.
As we eagerly await the late 2024 launch, one thing is clear: the convergence of these tech titans will likely result in an XR experience that pushes the boundaries of innovation and sets a new standard for immersive virtual reality.