Samsung is developing a roadmap for its mixed reality products, according to a senior executive. But Samsung has already experimented with virtual technologies. In 2015, the company released a virtual reality headset called Gear VR (pictured). It was eventually discontinued. Now, Samsung is looking for a new direction in mixed reality, an area the tech giants believe could mark a huge shift in computing.
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Barcelona, Spain – Samsung is working on a roadmap for so-called mixed-reality products, a senior executive at the South Korean tech giant told CNBC, as it seeks a foothold in devices considered by many electronics makers as the key to future growth.
Mixed reality has been touted as the next big change in computing, just like the smartphone was, hence the companies of Meta For Microsoft invest there.
Mixed reality refers to technologies that blend the virtual and physical world. This could involve augmented reality where virtual images or videos are superimposed on the real world. Mixed reality apps and experiences could be accessed through user-worn headsets.
Patrick Chomet, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics, told CNBC in an interview that the company is “working out” a roadmap for mixed reality products. He declined to give details on when such a product might be released.
Chomet, speaking to CNBC at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, highlighted Samsung’s partnership with alphabetical Google and the American chip giant Qualcomm which was announced in February. The three companies gave very few details about the implications of the partnership, but said it would focus on mixed reality.
Qualcomm sells a series of chips called Snapdragon XR specifically designed for mixed reality products, such as headsets. Samsung has years of experience in hardware design. While Google’s strength lies in its Android operating system and the developers who create apps for it.
Chomet said the partnership is not just about the three companies, but also about growing the mixed reality market.
“The reason why we announced is, beyond Qualcomm, Google and Samsung alone, we want to prepare the whole ecosystem. There will be many, many developers, content companies and application companies who will prepare innovation and experiences for this ecosystem,” said Chomet. said.
“Yes, we can make devices. Yes, Qualcomm can make chipsets, yes. Yes, Google can make operating systems [operating system]. But in the end, we need more than that, to create a vibrant ecosystem.”
Competition from Apple, Meta
Samsung is no stranger to these virtual experiences. The company released its first virtual reality headset in 2015 called Gear VR. At the time, it was built by Oculus, the company owned by Facebook. Samsung discontinued the Gear VR in 2020 because the device failed to take off in a big way.
At the time, the product required the insertion of a smartphone into the helmet. But electronics manufacturers are moving away from this model and towards wireless headphones.
Samsung’s Chomet said that while VR is good for gaming, “we think there’s more potential in a mixed reality…so we’re going to push the roadmap in that direction.”
Leo Gebbie, an analyst at CCS Insight, said some kind of “smart glasses would fit nicely” into Samsung’s portfolio of devices, from smartphones to watches.
“In addition to its smartphones, it already has wearables like the Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Buds. All of these would be optimized to work together to deliver the best possible user experience, furthering the connection with the ecosystem on which a lot of big tech companies are so focused on today,” Gebbie said.