You might think Samsung will be too busy putting out fires (caused by the Galaxy Note 7, of course), that it wouldn’t have time for more experimental technology, but this is Samsung we’re talking about. At a virtual reality gathering in California, Samsung Electronics VP Dr. Sung-Hoon Hong confirmed rumors that there would a “Gear VR 2” coming soon. But wait, there’s more! There’ll even be a “Gear VR 3”, but that might be a bit of a misnomer because that headset might actually be more about AR than VR.
Samsung actually already has two Gear VR head mounted displays or HMDs in the market, though both are practically considered first gen. Well, three if you count the pre-release prototypes. The first was launched in 2015 and supports the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5. The second one, basically just a refresh, came just a few months ago sporting a USB-C connector for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy Note 7.
So Samsung practically puts out a new Gear VR headset for every year’s generation, so 2017 won’t be different. And it could launch with the Galaxy S8 instead of much later with a new Galaxy Note, as Hong says the Gear VR 2 will be presented in a “short time”.
Perhaps more interesting, and also more ambitious, is the revelation of a 3rd gen headset, tentatively called “Gear VR 3”. Unlike the previous two, however, Samsung has taken inspiration from the Microsoft HoloLens and the now controversial Magic Leap. In other words, it will be making an excursion into augmented reality, in contrast to the purely virtual reality applications of the current Gear VR.
For that purpose, Hong says it has developed a light field engine that he claims makes very realistic looking holograms that you can (almost) touch. As such, it will also probably depart significantly from the current Gear VR design and look more like Google Glass or HoloLens. The company could tease the technology and the device as early as MWC 2017, though when it will actually launch will depend on how much traction it will get by then.