It looks like virtual reality and augmented reality are about to join forces. Samsung has announced the HMD Odyssey, a device that appears poised to spearhead a new generation of VR mixed with AR experiences, thanks to 6DOF (six degrees of freedom) positional tracking and new 3.5″ OLED displays that provide 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye, among other exciting features.
This is the Samsung’s first foray into a fully self-contained consumer VR headset, having previously relied on cell phones for both the display and processing power in its Gear VR line.
The good news is this new device has the highest resolution you can get in a plug-and-play consumer VR device: 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye. Plus, it can handle a 90 fps refresh rate, for smoother motion. By comparison, Sony’s PlayStation VR has 960 x 1080 pixels per eye, Oculus Rift offers 1080 x 1200 pixels per eye, as does the HTC Vive. Finally, Samsung’s Gear VR has 1280 x 1440 pixels per eyes—still less than the HMD Odyssey.
This is a mixed reality device, a term Microsoft coined to encompass experiences that bridge the gap between AR and VR; it incorporates aspects of augmented reality and virtual reality to create an ultra-immersive experience—albeit leaning heavily on the VR gaming angle.
The HMD Odyssey comes with two cameras that each act as a “Six Degrees of Freedom” (i.e. 6DOF) sensor and offer inside-out tracking for position tracking that does not require base stations.
Unlike the self-contained Gear VR, you’ll need to connect to a Windows PC to use the Samsung HMD Odyssey. However, it is designed to be plug-and-play. By the way, the field of view is 110 degrees, which is practically identical to the 114-degree cone in which humans experience stereo vision.
In the press release, Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow at Microsoft was quoted saying, “We’re excited to welcome the Samsung HMD Odyssey to the Windows Mixed Reality family of devices. This is an incredible product and another important step for the mixed reality journey we are on at Microsoft. With the Samsung HMD Odyssey, the team at Samsung has developed a Windows Mixed Reality headset that will delight our fans looking to immerse themselves in the world of mixed reality this holiday.”
Since believable virtual reality immersion is dependent on high fidelity audio, in addition to crisp visuals, this headset also incorporates high quality headphones from AKG that offer “360-degree spacial sound.” Furthermore, the headset ships with dual motion-sensitive controllers, so you can interact with your mixed-reality environments.
The Samsung HMD Odyssey headset and dual controllers
Additional cool features include a proximity sensor, an integrated mic, and the ability to tweak the optics for maximum eye comfort. Plus, you can use the headset with eyeglasses.
Announced yesterday, you can preorder the HMD Odyssey now. It will retail for $499 with a release date set for early November.