In an image that creates a bit of futureshock, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself strolling up to the Samsung stage in Barcelona as some 5,000 people, oblivious to his presence, simultaneously experience VR in Oculus-powered Gear VR headsets. The Samsung press event at Mobile World Congress crushed a record set only days earlier in Vancouver by VR filmmaker Chris Milk at TED, who gave around 1,200 people a simultaneous VR experience with Google Cardboard. Samsung also streamed its press conference to Gear VR and Cardboard owners at home in 360 degrees.
The press conference debuted the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones as well as the tiny Gear 360 camera for capturing 360-degree footage and photos with two fisheye lenses. While it was a huge week for VR overall, the biggest news was that the Gear VR would be offered free to people pre-ordering the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge before March 18. The offer includes $50 worth of some of the best games available for the platform, like space shooter Anshar Wars 2 and puzzler Land’s End.
Zuckerberg said VR would “become the most social platform” and that millions of people would get their hands on Gear VR. Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey tweeted:
“This is a huge step for mainstream adoption of VR. This is going to multiply the VR userbase by many times!”
HTC Vive is $800, Will Let You Answer Phone Calls in VR
Pre-orders begin Monday February 29 for the HTC Vive, which is officially priced at $800. The holodeck-like PC-powered system features interrelated technologies designed to keep people safe and comfortable in VR for longer periods of time while walking freely around a room. When it ships in early April the consumer headset will bring people’s hands into VR for natural gestures and feature Bluetooth technology to communicate with a phone so you can respond to calls from within VR without taking it off. It also has an outward-facing camera that can be activated so the person in VR can interact with others in the room naturally. To avoid collisions, the Vive also notifies people when they get close to a wall. Vive is billing the headset as “the whole package” in comparison to Oculus, which sells for $600 and is promoted initially as a seated or standing-only experience without the ability to see your hands in VR or walk around a whole room.
LG debuted a lightweight and almost stylish VR headset. It features its own screens and connects to the phone using a wired connection. However the device is not up to par with Gear VR. Gizmodo didn’t mince words.