Samsung Is Already Working On A Mixed-Reality Plan To Take On Apple

Mixed-reality devices are starting to become more mainstream smart offerings. Last year, screengrabs indicated that Apple was building a feature referred to as realityOS. Apple, for its part, is still working out development concerns within the chipset for wearable VR and MR devices. 

However, the company notes that it supports "the world's largest AR platform, with hundreds of millions of AR-enabled devices" already in production. These can be seen in functions like the filtered backgrounds that have appeared in Snapchat and feature manipulation within images captured on Apple device cameras.

Apple is a global leader in building innovative products that consumers are begging for, but Samsung is also a highly capable competitor. In speaking with CNBC at the end of February 2023, Samsung Executive Vice President Patrick Chomet noted that the company was pursuing partnerships with Qualcomm and Alphabet (parent company of Google). The plan looks to remain in a stage of infancy, however, with Samsung still developing a roadmap for its future in the world of mixed-reality. 

It's worth noting that Chomet was close-lipped about what this future might look like — whether it's something like the AR glasses platform by Apple, or something else. Similarly, Oculus has experimented with a Passthrough API that allows wearers to see both the virtual world and the real world through the headset. The partnership signed by Samsung, and the increasingly hot market for MR products, could spark significant innovation.

Samsung appears to be aiming at lifestyle and business applications

Samsung's new roadmap looks to be veering away from gaming utilities and toward business and lifestyle applications. Patrick Chomet noted in his interview with CNBC the value of virtual reality specifically in the gaming world, but that Samsung "believe[s] there is more potential in some mixed reality ... so we are going to advance the roadmap in the direction."

If the aim isn't to develop more immersive gaming experiences, then the Samsung team is clearly looking to build efficiency products that make daily tasks less of a hassle. This may also be a push to build immersive communications systems. Integrated with Samsung's Galaxy Buds and Watch lineup, a future device could make something akin to holographic video calling a reality. 

This would transform the landscape of communicating with friends and family who live far away, and augment a work-from-home culture that's continuing to thrive. These kinds of improvements to daily life and daily tasks may come as a welcome addition of previously sci-fi technology to a modern workspace and home.

The triad partnership brings a promising note to this announced roadmap

The partnership between Samsung, Qualcomm, and Alphabet/Google was announced at Samsung's Unpacked event in early February. Samsung has dipped its toes into the world of wearable VR gear in the past, but this new effort surely ushers in a new era of development and sleek product design from the team and its trio-partnership.

Samsung's Gear VR debuted in 2015, but was curtailed in 2020 due to minimal adoption rates. Similarly, Google Glass was demoed in 2012, and pulled from the market just two years later. But the two innovators have been working tirelessly on VR and AR applications since, and with the addition of Qualcomm, the maker of the Snapdragon XR chips built for mixed-reality gear, there may be a significant groundswell in the making. 

The market is primed for this kind of breakout development, according to Samsung, and the brand is seeking to position itself as a trend setter for AR/MR. "We want to prepare the whole ecosystem," Patrick Chomet notes. "There will be many, many developers, content companies and app companies that will prepare innovation and experiences for that ecosystem."