Is 2015 the year that VR gets real (Oculus Rift:) from @WemoLab

Back in September last year at the 2014 MORGO conference I was able to try out the Samsung Gear Oculus VR device and I was very impressed to see a swim by of a Blue Whale and more on the screen.

VR as a concept; has been around for quite a while and like many others, I have been waiting for the hardware / software combo to catch up with what we think the VR experience should be like.

The Samsung Gear Oculus headset looks like a diving mask with a slot to hold a Samsung Galaxy 4 phone. Neville Spiteri of WemoLab was in New Zealand briefly to get MORGO attendees up to speed on the device and the market potential for VR.

Here is a photo which shows Leon ( of IkeGPS) and Neville of WemoLab during the demo.

OculusVR_135239

Neville told us that Samsung was targeting a release of the headset before Christmas at something like $US200 and that has happened – with headsets available now on the Samsung website.

To use the Gear headset you also need a Samsung Galaxy 4 smartphone. In New Zealand those phones were still around $1k until recently but the current price is now down to about $600.

So that means in NZ if you can get the gear headset and the right phone – total price is around NZ$857 which is still a stretch for an environment lacking in actual VR content. Of course if you already have one of the S4 phones then it is a bonus to be able to use in the Gear headset.

This headset reminds me of the Apple Newton back in 1993. It is the direct ancestor of the iPad / iPhone and very few people even remember it. I’m reading the Steve Jobs bio at present and it is a miracle so many products actually got out the door at Apple.

Anyway the thing with the Newton was – we could all see the future but it was clunky, expensive and constrained by the manufacturing capabilities of the day just like VR is now. The Samsung Gear is not the Apple Newton – it is more like the first iPad and just like that, by the time Gear gets to the equivalent of iPad Air 2 you will wish you already had one.

Certainly the Samsung Gear is a fast start for VR by leveraging the S4 phones like that and now would be a great time to start developing for VR.

Right now there is not a lot of content to go on Oculus style VR but on the plus side there are millions of 8 year olds making their own virtual worlds on Minecraft and it is only a matter of time before some of them become developers.

Heck my daughter ( now 13) is well on her way to her personal 10,000 hrs on Minecraft after 4 years in craft mode. When I told her that VR was a bit like Minecraft with 18 cameras in real time she reckons that would be a great thing and wants to sign up.

VR is a future business opportunity but now is the right time to get started. Just like graphene – but I will write about that next week.

Here is a clip from Oculus Rift themselves in recent days.