This week was dominated by Samsung's big Unpacked event, which saw the debut of the Galaxy Watch Active and Galaxy Buds. However, the biggest news we saw in the world of VR and AR this week was the debut of the Vive Focus Plus.
It's basically HTC's answer to the Oculus Quest, but unlike the Quest it's not built for consumers. Regardless, that's not the only thing that that happened this week. You can always check out our dedicated news section, and then read on for even more.
Read this: VR and AR news
Samsung Galaxy S10 still has Gear VR support
Samsung last updated the Gear VR back in 2017. Even worse, it wasn't too big of an upgrade over the previous Gear VR, adding a remote and making some slight changes to the headset.
Samsung has now gone two years without updating it, and you'd think that means it's quietly dropped support for the Gear VR, especially as the Oculus Go exists. But Road to VR reports that the new Galaxy S10 phones have Gear VR support.
The same adapter that worked for last year's Galaxy phones will work this year, too. It's unclear how the Galaxy S10's new HDR display, or that cutout front-facing camera, will affect VR. Additionally, the Gear VR is built for 16:9 displays, and the new Galaxy S10s provide a lot more display than that.
Still, it's nice to see that Samsung is still supporting the Gear VR two years later. Hopefully there'll be a rebranded version hitting with the Note 10 later this year.
Varjo's VR headset uses dual-displays for vision-quality VR
There are a lot of technical challenges to making a great VR headset. You need low latency, you need high-quality visuals and you need a high-resolution display. Varjo is going all-in on the third with its new VR-1 headset.
It costs $5,999 but that cost has a purpose. It uses something called a "Bionic Display", which is a fancy way of saying it uses two displays in conjunction with each other. The first is a 1920x1080 "Micro-OLED" display that has 3,000 pixels per inch. The second is a more standard 1440x1600 AMOLED display with a field of view of 87 degrees.
Together, according to Ars Technica, who got to use the headset, they amount to a picture with no screen door effect, no pixel grid, no jagged lines - just vision-quality, high-resolution VR.
The way it works is this: The Micro-OLED display is always in front of you, while the AMOLED display is there for your peripheral vision. Because your eyes aren't as focused on the peripheral vision, the AMOLED display is good enough. The Micro-OLED is there to soak up your eye's attention. This is a similar idea to foveated rendering, but using advanced hardware except for software.
The rub? It's $6,000 and, despite being a SteamVR headset, is aimed toward businesses. There's also an annual $995 service fee. Varjo is working with the likes of Airbus, Audi, Saab, Volvo, Volkswagen and others.
Palmer Luckey shipping free Rift audio repair kits to users
Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey isn't with Oculus or Facebook any longer, but apparently he still cares about the VR company he helped build.
Some Rift users have been complaining about an audio issue with its built-in headphones. Luckey had been buying Rift headsets from users to figure out a fix, and he's worked it out. On his blog, Luckey says it's a design flaw with the Rift headset, and that it's covered under warranty from Oculus. However, if you're out of warranty Luckey will ship over an audio repair kit to you for free as long as you let him know.
Microsoft bringing AR to phones
Thus far, Microsoft's alternate reality efforts have been focused on HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. It's been shut out of the mobile AR world, where Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore have dominated.
That's changing, as Microsoft will begin to release AR apps on iOS and Android this spring. The move will help Microsoft get its AR out to more people, helping get the word out for Microsoft's more advanced headset-based AR. And hey, it doesn't hurt that a new HoloLens is just around the corner.
On Android, you'll be getting the Dynamics 365 Remote Assist app, which is a troubleshooting app also available on HoloLens. On iOS, there's Project Visualize, which is built for manufacturers of big machines like cars or heavy machinery to show them off via app. The advantage here over other AR model apps is Microsoft's ecosystem.
Play this: Project Porg
The Magic Leap One is available to buy, though it's expensive and intended to developers. That hasn't stopped ILMxLab from releasing a little experiment for it. It's called Project Porg, and it's based on those lovable chicken penguins from The Last Jedi. It's a free experience for Magic Leap One that has you take care of a porg like a tamagotchi. You'll feed it, play with it and make sure it has a good little life.