Original video content will be key focus for Samsung’s Gear VR headset

Original and immersive videos will be an important part of Samsung’s Gear VR strategy, an executive has said

Samsung will launch its virtual reality headset, Gear VR, by the end of the year, with a focus on original video content, the company has confirmed.

The new headset, which is set to launch before Black Friday (November 27) in the US, and soon afterwards in the UK, will also ship with the new Oculus Social app.

The app aims to immerse the wearer in a virtual home theatre, allowing you them to watch Vimeo and Twitch videos with a group of friends from anywhere in the world participating as avatars.

“Some people think virtual reality (VR) will be isolating but I think it’s clear it’s going to be a social medium,” Nicholas DiCarlo, vice president of virtual reality at Samsung said.

Mr DiCarlo said the company had “focused specifically on cultivating VR video”. “If you want to take a medium mainstream, you have to get to video. Research says people watch about 150 hours of video a month,” he added.

The $99 Gear VR, developed in collaboration with Oculus Rift, is what Mr DiCarlo refers to as “Oculus’ mobile strategy.” The headset can plug directly into any new Samsung mobile phone, including the Galaxy S6, Edge, Edge + and Note 5 handsets.

Samsung has developed and launched its own VR video channel Samsung Milk VR in order to produce new and immersive videos.

“We have worked with the likes of Refinery29 and the NBA to commission and put up new videos every single day,” Mr DiCarlo said. “It isn’t available in Europe yet, but stay tuned for that.”

Alongside the Occulus Social app, around half of the new apps developed for the headset are games, while others include apps such as Facebook 360 videos, and Jaunt, which commission filmmakers to create their own original movies.

Samsung has also launched its own VR camera Project Beyond, a 360-degree 3D capture camera built ground-up to create videos for virtual reality. “It’s a professional grade camera with eight pairs of cameras, acting as eyes, and targets the filmmaker market,” Mr DiCarlo said.

When it launches in the UK, the Gear VR will be the first taste of an entirely new domain of mainstream entertainment, with video at its core. Mr DiCarlo said. “It’s the launch of consumer virtual reality.”

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