Samsung, Oculus Unveil Affordable VR Viewer, VR Movies
Movies from Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate, Netflix and possibly others are coming to a Virtual Reality (VR) headset near you.
Oculus and Samsung, developers of VR headgear systems, took the technology closer to the mainstream at the Oculus Connect 2 developers’ conference in Hollywood Thursday by revealing that Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate and Netflix are working to bring 360-degree movies and TV programs to Oculus VR headsets.
Oculus and Samsung also revealed a new $99 version of the Samsung Gear VR headset, based on Samsung’s Galaxy Smartphones. It will join a $199 Samsung Gear VR Innovaters’ Edition introduced last year.
More on the Samsung Gear VR headset after the break:
The companies said they plan to make the VR hardware available in the U.S. in time for Black Friday. The VR headsets will also support more smartphone models, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge+, S6 and S6 edge. Other improvements include a design that is 22 percent lighter than the previous Gear VR Innovator Edition, and the addition of an improved touch pad. The headgear will leverage each device’s super AMOLED display.
“We see virtual reality as the next computing platform, and we are thrilled to partner with Oculus on Gear VR to set the standard for mobile VR and bring this revolutionary product to consumers,” stated JK Shin, Samsung Electronics IT & Mobile Division president and CEO.
The Samsung Gear VR includes new foam cushioning to make the device more comfortable to wear. Samsung said a new Gear VR touchpad also was improved, providing greater control of film selection and playback, gaming, 360 degree video and experiential content available for Gear VR.
“Together with Samsung, we’ve redefined virtual reality and created the best mobile VR experience available today,” stated Brendan Iribe, Oculus CEO. “On Gear VR, people are playing immersive VR games with friends, sharing 360 video experiences, and teleporting around the world with photos and videos – and it’s only the beginning for what’s possible with mobile VR.”
Oculus revealed plans for Oculus Video, which was described as an extension to the Oculus Cinema Mobile App providing a 360-degree virtual theater experience using the consumer VR headgear. Viewers with the headgear will be able to see movies that they rent or purchase on a virtual big screen inside 360-degree surround virtual theater. Fox and Lionsgate will be the first two studios to provide VR movies for Oculus Video.
Oculus said it is also working with Netflix to bring additional content, and it is discussing similar plans with Hulu, Vimeo, and Tivo.
Twentieth Century Fox revealed that “Alien,” “Life of Pi” and “Birdman” will be among the first 100 titles to be offered for the Oculus Video application.
The Fox Innovation Lab has been working on VR for a while and showed demonstrations of the Oculus headgear playing a specially produced 360-degree clip from it’s movie “Wild” to members of the press at International CES last January. Fox was said to be working on a VR edition of the new movie “The Martian.”
Movies for Oculus VR will be available in Digital HD and VOD through the Oculus Store.
Additional titles planned for availability include: “Gone Girl,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Taken,” “The Maze Runner,” “The Wolverine,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Black Swan,” “Cast Away,” “Die Hard,” “Predator” and “Office Space.”
Another big component of the VR system will be gaming, and the new Oculus Touch hand-held controller, which was specially designed for interactivity in a VR playing scape, is slated to reach stores in mid-2016, following the release of the previously announced new version of the Oculus Rift.
Among the popular video game franchises to be made available in VR will be “Minecraft,” and Epic Games’ “Bullet Train,” which was described as a VR gunfight experience.
By Greg Tarr
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