I just had the chance to get a hands on look at the brand new Samsung Gear VR Headset powered by Oculus... and it's going to be something else!
So I show up to a family dinner tonight, and in walks my brother in law, grinning from ear-to-ear. Now, I'm known as a techie kind of guy (I used to write for a high def website before getting completely burned out by the project) but I still have my nose to the grindstone, so to speak.
When he mentioned he had a new toy for me to check out, my ears perked. And when he showed me his new Samsung S7 and Gear VR virtual reality headset by Oculus my eyes must've grown three sizes bigger.
Now, I have mild recollections of my youth and the Gameboy Virtual Boy - likely my only real experience with virtual reality technology until today - and even that wasn't much. So for years, I've really not had much interest in VR. Boy, did that change today.
The Samsung Gear VR allows a Samsung smartphone user (Note 5, S6/Edge, S7/Edge) the ability to use their screen to turn this sleek white headset into a virtual world. And while the actual picture will not fool you into feeling like you're actually where the footage is shot, it certainly transports you to a different world.
I had the ability to watch a handful of demos (the phone comes with a small sampling of 360 degree videos, as well as the ability to shoot your own 360 video), as well as a few 360 games to really allow yourself to be submersed into the 360 world.
Strapping the headset on, I initially chose a Walt Disney video. Riding a few of the rides I'm familiar with was certainly cool, and I was laughed at during one point when I was referenced to being Stevie Wonder, since I was actually moving my head along with the ride on Big Thunder Mountain.
Next up was a jetfighter launch and flight. Turning my head around I was able to watch the ground slowly get smaller as we drifted into the expansive blue sky, with an entourage of other fighter jets to add to the show. What a neat feeling.
Finally, I found myself big wave surfing via a GoPro experience. Here I was, catching waves without the added water, in places I've never seen in person. Watching the waves crash over me was incredibly cool.
When I finally pulled the headset off, I was reminded where I actually was. Which was fine, but I definitely have the bug and the interest in the technology to see where it goes from here. I'm certain that future 360 content will continue to be uploaded and have the ability to stream live events will only be a matter of time.
For about $100 (depending on where you live), you too can turn your Samsung phone into a virtual world. Unfortunately I do not currently have a Samsung phone, but I hear there are a few other Oculus models coming, including ones with built in screens to watch content.
Imagine watching the world from the comfort of your favourite chair. The Samsung Gear VR will definitely change the way we will do some things in the future. Though it kind of reminds me of Surrogates. Where is Bruce Willis these days?