Mere weeks after rumors surfaced that Apple may be working on a headset capable of VR and augmented reality, it appears that Samsung is taking the same approach, but with an assist from Microsoft.
Samsung is developing a wireless headset that will deliver both AR and VR experiences, according to a report from the Korea Times. The company will build the device with its own components, namely OLED displays, sensors, and processors, while Microsoft's software will drive the experience.
An unnamed Samsung representative confirmed the plans with the publication. The company is reportedly aiming to reveal the headset at the IFA conference in Berlin in August.
Now, before anyone starts accusing Samsung of copying Apple's plans (again), let's not forget that Samsung alluded to such plans in 2016 and has already filed patents for the technology.
Moreover, Samsung is already well-entrenched in VR, both with its own Gear VR headsets for its smartphones, as well as the Odyssey HMD Windows Mixed Reality headset, which tethers to a PC. It's easy to imagine a pass-through AR experience for either VR platform. If anything, the strategy makes more sense for Samsung and Microsoft than Apple, a company that has been forthright about its preference for AR over VR.
"This approach allows us and our ecosystem to embrace and take advantage of a wide range of experiences across the mixed reality spectrum — from simplified augmented reality to immersive virtual reality, to holographic computing — forever changing the way each of us work, communicate and play," wrote Alex Kipman, technical fellow at Microsoft (and NR50 member) in a blog post launching the Windows Mixed Reality headsets last year.
The hybrid approach towards AR headsets ahead of AR-dedicated wearables is certainly a logical strategy.
Currently, the hype for AR is outpacing Moore's Law and the inevitable shrinking of the components that would facilitate smartglasses that are capable of realistic AR experiences in a comfortable and aesthetically-pleasing form factor. So in order to capitalize on the technology now, compromises will be necessary.
It now appears that Samsung, along with Apple and others, believes it may have the right solution for delivering AR to the mainstream.
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