A report appeared not too long ago that Samsung, the South Korean tech giant, plans to stop making digital cameras but will instead focus on the Gear 360 and Gear VR headset. While the company launched a new Gear 360 2017 recently, nothing has been heard of the Gear VR headset. However, a Samsung patent has revealed that Samsung has something really interesting up its sleeves as far as Gear VR is concerned.
A patent filing published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office this week has given us a glimpse into what would likely be the future Samsung Gear VR headset. The patent filing reveals the design of a Gear VR of the future, whether near or distant future we can't say. But it shows Samsung plans to include a number of original features and new input accessories on the Gear VR so as to diversify the functionalities of the Gear VR.
The Samsung Gear VR was launched in 2015 and works with a compatible Samsung Galaxy device (Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6/S6 Edge/S6 Edge+, Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, or Galaxy S8/S8+) acts as the headset's display and processor, while the Gear VR unit itself acts as the controller, which contains the field of view, as well as a custom inertial measurement unit, or IMU, for rotational tracking, which connects to the smartphone via micro-USB. The Gear VR headset also includes a touchpad and back button on the side, as well as a proximity sensor to detect when the headset is on. The Gear VR's function is more or less rudimentary in that aside from games, watching movies or VR-like contents, the Gear VR doesn't have too many other functions.
All-New Gear VR Detachable Trackpad Accessory
Samsung has introduced a few upgrades both in the software and hardware, even introducing a handheld Gear VR controller accessory with the Galaxy S8 when it was launched but there are more coming. The patent filing shows there is a plan to give the Gear VR a new face cover that would allow the smartphone's rear camera to capture snapshots of the outside world. It also allows the users to monitor their immediate environment. Users may also get a Picture-in-Picture (PIP) view within the headset as seen in the patent.
Another major set of changes that could feature on the Gear VR involves the input controllers. The new design comes with new input controllers which are in form of an accessory that can be used to control games and menus as well as other control functions.
All-New Gear VR Trackball Input Accessory
The Gear VR may also get a Trackball which would assist movement within certain next-gen applications. trackball to assist movement within certain next-gen applications. The trackball would bring precision and a more flexible movement to controls when compared to a touchpad which restricts movement due to its structure.
Yet another Gear VR input accessory identified as "Wheel Key" is also featured on the patent and will aid when there is need to scroll down a lengthy text with ease. It can also be used to control a drone camera when in a photo shoot.
Shopping Mall VR Application
Samsung seeks to broaden the usefulness of the Gear VR and its range of functionalities. One of the illustration is that of a VR shopping mall application where users will be able to pick up items and view them from all angles as if it were a physical mall. Users may also be able to zoom in and zoom out while viewing the product using the trackpad.
Panoramic and Drone Photography Applications
New controls will make it easy to take panoramic photos hands-free. The trackpad or wheel key could be used to select the panoramic mode option and after that capture the scene with the movement of the head. Since the face plate of the patented Gear VR is now clear glass, the user can capture photos using a single finger. Since the smartphone is not being held in the hands, the panoramic or regular photos will be steadier.
In addition, Samsung illustrates that Gear VR will be working a future drone device that could be controlled through the headset and various new input accessories. Finally, the Gear VR patent lists the device to have a number of sensors like gesture and biometric sensors. The gesture sensor could be used in conjunction with the camera to understand gestures relating to a game or application. Biometric sensors could include fingerprint ID, electromyography (EMG), electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG) or iris sensors.
Other advanced sensors like optic sensors to measure inter-pupil distance could also be present. There may be an eye tracker which will track the eyes of a user by using at least one of electrical oculography (EOG) sensors, coil systems, dual-Purkinje systems, bright pupil systems, or dark pupil systems. In addition, the eye tracker may include a micro camera to track a user's eyes.
We really can't say if the device would be unveiled anytime soon but the patent gives Samsung fans something exciting to look forward to seeing soon. It may just be sooner than we expect.