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Samsung unveils GearVR

Working with Oculus on smartphone display.

Another contender has entered the Virtual Reality arena, as Samsung used its Unpacked press event to unveil GearVR, the Android-based headset it has been developing with Oculus. The collaboration reportedly allows Oculus preferential access to Samsung screens for its own Rift product.

John Carmack shows off the GearVR headset at Samsung's Unpacked event.

"We are thrilled to reveal the Gear VR Innovator Edition, a state-of-the-art mobile VR experience powered by Oculus," says Doom creator John Carmack, who left id last year to become the Chief Technology Officer at Oculus. "The deep technical partnership with Samsung has enabled us to create a virtual reality headset with world class resolution and performance, all on a completely mobile platform."

The system uses the just-announced Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which slots into the headset and uses its Quad HD super AMOLED 2.5k display to supply the dual images needed for a VR experience. Much like the Oculus Rift, it will initially be available in an prototype version for developers and tinkerers to play with, and is expected to be available by the end of this year.

"It's an early-access, beta-version of the device for developers and enthusiasts rather than a final consumer product," explains the Oculus blog. "Content creators can experiment and build totally new experiences while users explore the bleeding edge of mobile VR as it's being pioneered."

The Oculus Cinema app will let you browse and view VR films and trailers.

Revealed alongside the GearVR was a suite of software that Oculus has developed, offering a hint as to how VR may integrate with commercial entertainment systems. Oculus Home is a VR dashboard that offers access to a store and the Oculus Cinema, where virtual reality movie content can be downloaded and viewed. There will also be an option to view panoramic photos in VR.

Between GearVR, Oculus Rift, Sony's Morpheus and others, the big question now is who gets to the consumer market first?

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