In a video released today, Samsung showed off the basic idea. A parent and a child, in separate places, can experience a story together, with the parent reading on-screen text describing what’s happening, as Endgadget pointed out.
The video promoting the story features an actual mother and daughter, sharing an experience while in fact far apart from each other. One moment, of the two reaching for each other’s hands and finding nothing, is designed to tug at the heart strings, and show how tech can bring people together. If that’s too much subtext for you, don’t worry: at one point the child literally says she felt like mom was by her side.
It’s cute, and a good example of the way that VR can make shared experiences feel tangible in a way that voice or video calls cannot. But there are a few potential downsides here.
First of all, screens before bedtime is not a great idea for your sleep cycle, and screens a few inches from your face probably aren’t an improvement. Pity whoever is taking care of the kid after mom ends the VR call, because “I can’t sleep” is going to come up. Multiple times.
Second, anyone who grew up with siblings can only imagine the fights that will break out before bed. Who gets to wear the headset, and be with mom? That’s probably why this video features a single-child household.
Finally, the shared experience requires quite a bit of kit. The Gear retails for $100, and requires a recent Samsung phone in order to function. You’ll need at least two of these setups to share an experience, though the video depicts a cardboard penguin headset that’s not currently available. Presumably this will be cheaper than the Gear itself.
Bedtime Stories isn’t available yet, but you can experience a YouTube version right now using any compatible headset, or using your browser with click-and-drag.