Samsung and Oculus have been treating Gear VR and the Oculus Rift in a similar manner, meaning both pieces of hardware are clearly labeled as developer or enthusiast devices, and not meant for the general public. Oculus CTO John Carmack said Gear VR will get a proper, full consumer launch with Samsung’s next hardware cycle, however. This was Samsung’s desire with the most recent Gear VR hardware, he explained at GDC on stage, but Oculus wanted to keep the “Innovator” edition able in place until they felt it was actually ready for more widespread use.
This marks the most solid proclamation of an intent to make real consumer VR hardware available beyond the early adopter crowd we’ve heard from Oculus VR yet, whether for its Oculus Rift headset or for the Gear VR mobile device. It’s still not setting anything in stone – Carmack deferred from making any specific comments on when Samsung’s next hardware cycle might actually occur – but the Note generally gets an update in the fall, which is when the original Gear VR debuted last year.
Carmack stressed that there is still a ways to go from the current iteration of Gear VR to a consumer launch, especially when it comes to software experiences like games. Games experienced on today’s hardware can still induce nausea, he noted, which is a big problem if you’re looking to bring it to a wider audience. But mobile VR is important for getting the word about VR in general, he said, and with a broad Gear VR launch Oculus and Samsung could get a lot more people excited about the still-nascent tech.