Samsung announces new Windows-based virtual-reality headset at Microsoft event

Samsung is joining Microsoft’s virtual reality push, announcing an immersive headset that pairs with Windows computers. 

The South Korean electronics giant unveiled its Samsung HMD Odyssey at a Microsoft event in San Francisco recently. It will sell for US$499 (RM2,110). 

The device joins Windows-based immersive headsets built by Lenovo, HP, Acer and Dell, and aimed for release later this year. 

Microsoft is among the companies seeking a slice of the emerging market for modern head-mounted devices. 

High-end headsets, like Facebook-owned Oculus’s Rift and the HTC Vive, require powerful Windows PCs to run. 

Others, including the Samsung Gear VR and Google’s Daydream, are aimed at the wider audience of people who use smartphones. 

Microsoft’s vision, for now, is tied to the PC, and specifically new features in the Windows operating system designed to make it easier to build and display immersive environments. 

The company also has its own hardware, but that hasn’t been on display recently. 

Microsoft’s HoloLens was a trailblazer when it was unveiled in 2015. The headset, whose visor shows computer-generated images projected onto objects in the wearer’s environment without obscuring the view of the real world completely, was subsequently offered for sale to developers and businesses. 

But the US$3,000 (RM12,687) device, much costlier than mainstream VR headsets that sell for less than US$1,000 (RM4,229), has been limited to niche applications. Microsoft hasn’t disclosed plans for a new version. 

Microsoft also said that it had acquired AltspaceVR, a California virtual reality software startup that was building social and communications tools until it ran into funding problems earlier this year. — The Seattle Times/Tribune News Service