By Troy Dreier
What could convince average consumers that they need a virtual reality headset? The ability to create their own personal Netflix theater.
Samsung made virtual reality headsets much more attractive to the average consumer yesterday when it announced the $99 Samsung Gear VR headset. Working with Oculus, Samsung created a headset that’s 22 percent lighter than the previous model and works with an expanded range of Samsung phones. The previous model only worked with the Galaxy S6 and Note 4, but the Gear VR works with all of the company’s 2015 Galaxy phones, including the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, S6, and S6 Edge. (The headset requires a Samsung phone for operation.)
What’s going to change people’s perceptions of VR, however, is the announcement that Gear VR works with a variety of streaming video services. The headset currently supports Netflix, and will soon work with Twitch, Hulu, and Vimeo, as well. That turns VR headsets from motion sickness-inducing gaming devices into personal head-mounted theaters. The Twitch stream will let viewers take part in group chats.
Hulu announced that it will stream not only 2D TV shows and movies, but short-form VR videos, as well. Consumers will also be able to stream over 100 movies from Fox through an Oculus Cinema app and games through the Oculus Arcade.
The Samsung Gear VR will hit the market in the U.S. in November, just in time for the holiday buying season.