A Samsung executive has let slip a sequel to the Gear VR headset will be released soon. The news came from Samsung VP Dr. Sung-Hoon Hong at the Virtual Reality Summit held in San Diego this week, and while this little tidbit of news is exciting, what he revealed afterwards is even more tantalizing.
Samsung is apparently also working on an augmented reality headset, similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens, where we’ll be able to interact with the virtual content it displays. He described it being the next step in the Pokémon Go AR experience, where players would see a Pokémon in a tree, and then move the leaves and branches aside to get to it. He described this as the third stage of AR technology, where the real world blends into the virtual, and changes it in real time.
The interest in augmented reality is tied in with Samsung’s recent artificial intelligence push. The company will add a virtual assistant to the Galaxy S8 smartphone, built in part with technology from Viv Labs, which it acquired recently. Hong explained the plan is to integrate the AI assistant with the AR headset, minimizing the need to interact with a smartphone for many tasks. It’s the same dream Google had with Google Glass.
Excitingly, we may see Samsung’s AR headset soon. Hong indicated the technology will be shown at Mobile World Congress in late February next year, but it’s not clear whether we’ll see a prototype or a concept, rather than a real product we’ll be able to go out and buy. Little else was said about the Gear VR 2, outside of it being revealed in the very near future, which could mean CES 2017 in January, or again, at MWC the following month.
High-tech eyewear seems to be on the cusp of making a comeback. However, Samsung will need more than the viral success of Snap Inc’s Spectacles, if it’s to convince the general public to wear an augmented reality headset on a daily basis.