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article imageSamsung planning to take virtual reality beyond smartphones

By James Walker     Feb 18, 2016 in Technology
Samsung is planning to expand its virtual reality business by deemphasising the role of the smartphone in the emerging technology. The company wants to see virtual reality involved in all areas of life, including business scenarios.
Samsung's primary VR product is currently the Gear VR, a virtual reality headset that works with a limited selection of high-end Galaxy smartphones built by the company. Its position as a smartphone accessory is preventing Samsung from taking VR further, a company executive indicated this week.
At a press briefing in Seoul this week, Samsung Mobile's Koo Yun-mo raised the prospect of expanding Samsung's development of virtual reality to extend beyond Android smartphones, ZDNet reports. "The point in the beginning for starting the virtual reality business was to increase the competitiveness of smartphones," Yun-mo said. "If the opportunity presents itself, we may expand it to other areas, besides just increasing smartphone competitiveness."
The executive provided examples of "areas" which Samsung is considering as candidates for VR. They include giving investors in building projects an immersive experience showing what the finished construction will look like and classroom usage to educate students on the structure of key landmarks around the world. As an emerging technology, virtual reality programs are largely centred around entertainment, media and gaming at present but companies are beginning to consider how VR headsets could open new opportunities in business, education, healthcare and other public sectors.
Samsung isn't the first company to consider adapting its VR headsets to suit more practical scenarios. Recently, Google expanded its Expeditions program, a VR experience built for its Cardboard VR headset that lets teachers take their students on a "field trip" to locations around the world from within the confines of the classroom. Over 500,000 students have since been on a virtual field trip with the Expeditions program.
Samsung won't be evolving Gear VR to suit these new kinds of deployment overnight. It is working to develop its technology, building a virtual reality platform capable of supporting the high-quality content users demand.
The $99 Gear VR headset has only been on sale for a few months but has already received software updates adding new content consumption-oriented features. In December, Samsung unveiled a VR web browser, letting users navigate the Internet with voice commands and jump straight into 360-degree videos.
Samsung is going to continue to use virtual reality as a tool to increase the competitiveness of its smartphones as it expands its VR offering. The company will give people who pre-order its upcoming Galaxy S7 2016 flagship smartphone a free Gear VR headset, according to widely distributed but currently unconfirmed reports. Yun-mo did not comment on the rumours during this week's press briefing.
More about Samsung, Vr, Virtual reality, Smartphone, gear vr
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