AUSTRALIAN phone users will be able to play virtual reality games, watch 360-degree films, and navigate the web using their eyes as Samsung launches its third virtual reality headset.
The new Samsung Gear VR will be made available in Australian stores for $159 today, though only users of the company’s four most recent flagship phones will be able to use the technology.
Samsung’s headset is one of a growing number of virtual reality gadgets poised to launch in the coming year, with HTC, Oculus, Sony and Microsoft planning to release virtual and augmented reality technology.
Samsung’s latest Gear VR will be the third virtual reality headset from the company, with this model accommodating small and large-screen phones, offering a more lightweight body, and greater padding.
Samsung Electronics Australia mobile vice-president Prasad Gokhale said the headset was part of a larger push to drive “forward innovation in our wearable technology offering”.
“We see the Gear VR as a way to open the door of immersive virtual reality for Australians who demand the best mobile experiences,” he said.
The virtual reality headset, created in conjunction with Oculus, will deliver more types of content this time, however.
In addition to interactive games delivered from an app store, the new model will deliver a virtual reality web browsing experience.
Called Samsung Internet for Gear VR Beta, the app will make websites appear to surround the user, and will show 360-degree and 3D videos from sites including YouTube.
In addition to navigating with the headset’s touchpad, they will be able to use voice commands and a feature called Gaze mode that lets users “click” on links simply by staring at them.
Internet bookmarks can be imported from Samsung’s web browser.
Only four Samsung phones will be compatible with the headset, however — the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy S6 Edge.
Samsung will also receive plenty of competition in the virtual reality space next year.
HTC recently announced plans to launch its Vive headset, developed with Valve, in April, while Oculus Rift is due to launch early next year.
Microsoft will also sell a developer version of its augmented reality HoloLens headset next year, which promises to overlay virtual objects on top of the real-world environment.