We Have a Challenger
The mobile VR race is on. Samsung burst out of the gates, partnering with Oculus to bring virtual reality to the masses with Gear VR. They slow played their first implementation, calling it the explorer edition, but are making a strong case that the world is ready for its first consumer VR product. As Samsung continues to charge ahead, many have been waiting for the day rival South Korean tech giant LG would enter the race. That day is today.
LG and Google
LG has been keeping their plans under wraps, but in that silence, they have structured a partnership with Google to build a VR headset for the upcoming LG G3 phone. The headset is similar to the Gear VR in that they’re both plastic housings for a phone. Where LG’s headset differs is that the phone will slide into a modified version of Google Cardboard. It looks very similar, right down to the neodymium ring magnet on the side that will pair with the phone’s internal gyroscope. Where it gets interesting is figuring out who will be able to provide a better mobile interface for virtual reality, Facebook or Google. The Gear VR seemed like more of an afterthought for Oculus, whereas Google undoubtedly has the Android team working hard and fast to build out the new UI. It will be interesting to see how each team’s implementation will vary, particularly in regards to payment environments. It’s early enough to be anyone’s game, but most will be paying attention to the platform that best allows creators to make money from their products.
It’s still unclear when the LG headset will become available, where you’ll be able to find it, or how much it will cost. They have been tight-lipped about the release, offering just small bites of information, though they are planning to give the headset away for free to those who purchase the G3. This makes for an interesting race in mobile VR.