Wearable Samsung XR could be an industry backlash to Apple’s MR headset

Samsung has announced a slew of new devices, including the usual Galaxy S trio of flagship smartphones. While that’s normal fare for Samsung this time of year, it’s suddenly made a few selection statements that grab attention and are somewhat itchy. Samsung has actually revealed that it’s working on an “augmented reality” or XR wearable, pretty much a headset, something it hasn’t done in half a decade. While mostly an announcement of intent rather than a teaser of an actual product, a few big names in the tech industry have left their names as partners in the effort. While it’s not really a world-shattering discovery that Samsung is making a headset again, the timing of all these hints seems a little too appropriate not to put them in the light of Apple’s own upcoming mixed reality device.

Designer: Samsung (via The Washington Post)

Samsung is really no stranger to these types of headphones and is probably very familiar with their problems as well. He started with the smartphone-powered GearVR, which he worked on with Oculus before Facebook in 2015. Then there was HMD Odyssey, one of the few Windows Mixed Reality titles released and gushing. Either way, the tech giant backed off along with the rest of its peers, making this announcement more intriguing and suspicious.

There are few notable players in the VR and AR space these days, with Meta (formerly Facebook) and HTC Vive still competing for the best slots. Microsoft has pretty much forgotten about HoloLens, and Google has typically been like Google about the remaining ARCore platform. Surprisingly, these are the same companies that Samsung will be working with for the XR wearable and put together who is Big Tech in a single task.

Details about the device itself are scant, but Samsung has revealed that it will be powered by a Qualcomm chipset and will run an unannounced version of Android made specifically for headphones. More important than hardware, the dropping of Samsung’s name implies that it built a more stable ecosystem before launching the product. The reason many startups in this niche market failed was because they focused too much on the product without an ecosystem that gave it a reason to exist in the first place.

When Apple launches its own MR device this spring, it won’t have this problem, given that all of its products live in the Apple universe. But their rivals have nothing like it, and they will have to join forces to deliver something of value. Of course, these companies, including Apple, need to have a convincing argument as to why you would want to put a screen on your face. And as the same companies have experienced, this isn’t a particularly easy proposition to sell.

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