Virtual Reality Becomes Reality: The Samsung Gear VR

While 37 CES Innovation awards in 2015 was something to be proud of, CES 2016 has brought Samsung an unprecedented 38 trophies. And, sure, recognition from judges who've had their hands in crafting NASA robots is definitely amazing, but it's the “innovation” part that really hits home. The Samsung Gear VR Powered by Oculus walked away with one of those 38 awards at this year's CES, and it did so not just for its aesthetic and engineering qualities, but for pioneering the virtual reality pack—for innovating in a newborn field rife with innovators.

In Reality: Forging New Paths

In 2015, Engadget wrote of the Gear VR that “there's currently no better way to get started with virtual reality.” Partnering with the pioneers at Oculus VR (the trailblazing VR devs behind some of the most immersive upcoming headsets in gaming) allows the Gear to forge right into the VR mainstream. While expensive devices have catered to hardcore enthusiasts for a few years, the Gear VR greeted 2015 with the smallest, lightest form factor of any VR headset and a small, light price of $99 to match.

While tech specs and innovation go hand-in-hand, there's no such thing as progress in a vacuum—to innovate widely, you've got to bring that progress directly to the people.

A Personal, Yet Connected, Experience

Speaking of bringing progress to the people, it'd be remiss to gloss over the Gear VR's partner in crime: your smartphone. While other virtual reality systems require a gaming system or high-powered computer, the Gear VR completely embraces the ubiquity of smartphones—that device that's probably within arm's reach right now—by essentially working as a dock for your Note5 or Galaxy S6. Using your phone as a springboard, the Gear VR welcomes you into the Oculus Home portal where you can launch apps, games and media stored on your smart device. In this way, the Gear VR is among the first-ever virtual reality headsets designed with day-to-day consumers in mind: as always, accessibility rules.

Standing Apart

Freeing virtual reality from the wired bonds of a computer or console frees your legs to wander virtual landscapes, but you can't have that freedom without forward-thinking content to power it. Rather than the slew of tech demos synonymous with past VR systems, more full-fledged VR apps and media accompany the Gear VR than ever before. Whether you're solving puzzles with nothing but your gaze or watching videos with a full 360-degree viewing range, content is where new experiences happen, and where those new experiences will continue to grow.

Photo Credits: Samsung

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