Samsung has just announced yet another new Gear VR virtual reality headset — this time with a physical controller accessory that “provides quicker selection and interaction.” The headset itself appears largely identical to the version that was created for the now-recalled Galaxy Note 7. It’s still got a 101-degree field of view and is compatible with both USB-C and MicroUSB Samsung devices including the Galaxy S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 Edge+, S6 and S6 Edge. Samsung’s focus with this announcement is definitely the controller, which was designed specifically for one-hand use, according to Oculus, and features a touchpad for in-app gestures and a trigger that “lets you select, grab, take aim, and fire.”
Oculus says that over 70 titles optimized for the new Gear VR controller are in development, and all existing content should also work fine since at its simplest, the accessory is basically a superior version of the touchpad built into the headset. An SDK will be available to app and game makers “in a few weeks.” The one hardware difference on the headset is a strap that can hold the controller when you’re not using VR.
A physical controller should definitely improve the overall Gear VR user experience; that’s certainly been the case for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. There’s not as much technology packed into Samsung’s — and the mobile-centric Gear VR doesn’t have any camera tracking — but anything that makes VR feel less awkward is a welcome addition. Samsung hasn’t announced pricing or a release date for the Gear VR with Controller.