Samsung Gear VR Controller

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Samsung Gear VR Controller
Information
Type Input Device, Motion Tracker
Subtype Hands/Fingers Tracking
Platform Samsung Gear VR
Developer Samsung
Operating System Android
Tracking 3DOF
Rotational Tracking IMUs
Input trackpad, trigger, 4 buttons
Release Date April 21, 2017
Price $39

Introduction

Samsung and Oculus have jointly developed a motion controller for the Gear VR headset. Before the launch of the Gear VR Controller, users had two ways to control the virtual world. They either had to use a Bluetooth gamepad or use the trackpad/controls on the headset. Both these methods offered limited features and functionality. The new Samsung Gear VR Controller offers the users a more interactive, immersive, and intuitive virtual reality experience.

Samsung launched the controller along with the company’s latest Gear headset. It’s believed that the controller is compatible with all previous versions of the Gear VR headsets, except the earliest release. The Samsung Gear VR Controller can be bought along with the virtual reality headset or separately.

Hardware

The Samsung Gear VR Controller is no bigger than the Daydream View Controller, but it’s designed to be more comfortable, practical, and efficient. The more ergonomic design allows users to have long gaming sessions without straining their hands and fingers.

Similarities between Gear VR Controller and Oculus’s Touch gamepad are unmissable, even though Oculus gamepad has a better and smoother finish. The Samsung Gear VR Controller has a smooth texture that’s easy to touch and hold. There is no denying that Samsung has put a lot of thought and hard work to make the perfect controller for its phone supported virtual reality headset.

The Controls

When users hold the controller, the thumb would naturally rest on the trackpad, which also acts as a button. Below the trackpad, there is the Home button on the right and the Back button on the left. Underneath the two buttons are the +/- volume controls. On the rear side of the controller, where the index finger naturally rests, there is a trigger button. The controller perfectly fits the hand; the user need not awkwardly move the fingers to reach the buttons.

The index finger controlled trigger button is the most interesting feature of the Samsung Gear VR Controller. The trigger button on the controller does more than one function. Although the basic use of the index finger trigger button is shooting, it can also be used as a button to make the player hold an object in the virtual world. Normally, the shooting and holding function are seen only in high-end virtual reality systems such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Tracking

Gear VR Controller has IMUs for rotational tracking only. It does not have positional tracking like the Oculus Touch. The controller does improve the previously gaze-only input of the Gear VR. If the controller drifts, you can hold down the Home button on the controller at any time to quickly recenter it.

Setting Up the Gear VR Controller

Samsung Gear VR Controller setup involves many steps; making the setting up process slightly complicated than other controllers. Begin the setup process by inserting 2 AAA batteries into the controller and pairing the Bluetooth.

Users can’t use the controller yet. The Gear VR controller needs to be calibrated. The Oculus Home app will provide a set of tests and instructions to help users calibrate the controller. The user will be asked to place the controller on a flat surface, wave in the air in a specific manner, and perform a few other simple tasks. Once the controller is calibrated the user is free to use the device to control any compatible app.

Supporting Apps

As of today, 20 or so Gear VR Controller compatible apps can be found in the Oculus store. Oculus has promised to increase the number of compatible apps to 50 in the coming months. At present, around 700 apps are compatible with the Samsung Gear VR headset, so it might take some time for the controller to support all the apps. Night Sky, Star Chart, and Drop Dead are just some of the compatible apps made available for Gear Controller.

Some experts compare Gear Controller to Daydream’s remote device. Both gadgets are not high-end controllers, but the motion tracking, response, and accuracy of both are excellent.

Oculus Home

Samsung Gear VR Controller’s use extends beyond games and apps. Inside the Oculus Home interface, the controller can be used as a navigation tool. The Gear Controller makes the menu selection and browsing the internet an enjoyable experience. The higher resolution picture quality offered by Oculus makes web page browsing and reading fun.

Cost

The Samsung Gear VR headset and the controller together cost around $129. The VR controller alone can be bought for $39. The company is offering the virtual reality controller for free to those who pre-order Samsung’s Galaxy S8 phone.

The price may seem a bit high if you compare Samsung’s VR headset and controller with Google’s Daydream View. But, the Gear VR controller is a much more sophisticated gadget with better design and features. The Samsung Gear VR Controller is a high-end gadget available at a low-end product price.

It should be noted that the Gear VR headset and controller are compatible only with Samsung phones. Samsung Galaxy S6 and later models can be used with the Gear headset. Samsung’s collaboration with Oculus is sure to speed up the evolution of the virtual reality headset and accessories.

References


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