Samsung Virtual Reality

The next Gear VR might have a handheld controller

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Written by Kamil Arli

Tech Columnist 

Samsung’s next Gear VR mobile headset might add something we’ve wanted for years: a handheld controller. This morning, SamMobile pointed to a couple of hints that suggest a dedicated controller of some sort might be coming, including a tweet from WinFuture editor Roland Quandt and an FCC filing spotted by Galaxy Club. Such a device could replace the built-in trackpad that’s been on the Gear VR since its first iteration in 2014.

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WE HAVE GOT BASICALLY NO DETAILS ON WHAT THIS CONTROLLER MIGHT LOOK LIKE

We’ve got basically no details on what this controller might look like, except that it’s supposedly one-handed and may look very loosely like the sketch below, taken from one of the FCC filings. The testing documentation simply refers to a “Gear VR Controller.” Quandt’s tweet says it will come with a new Gear VR headset designed to fit the Samsung Galaxy S8 phone, which is supposed to be announced sometime this spring.

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 FCC

To be clear, this probably doesn’t mean Samsung is releasing something that looks like a ball on a stick — if it’s releasing a controller soon at all. But the general shape would fit with a pointing device like Google’s Daydream controller, which uses internal sensors for limited motion tracking. It doesn’t look much like the larger two-handed controller render that leaked last year — and which, as far as I can tell, was an old concept rather than a future product.

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Several Gear VR games currently require a non-included, third-party game controller, and it would be unusual for a one-handed device to have the same number of inputs. But some of these experiences may use a controller just because the trackpad (located by your temple) is so unwieldy; it’s easy to make accidental swipes, and keeping your arm up quickly gets tiring. If Samsung improves the interface with its next headset, it’s possible some developers might meet it halfway — which would make the entire package a lot more user-friendly.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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