It’s a seriously cool concept, and while you’re not represented by an avatar — a fact that is noted by the fact that if you look down, you’re invisible — it’s still a mesmerising experience, with quick 3D tracking to let you really look around.
You can’t yet move forward in the demo — we guess your seat in the middle will have to do, but rather than show a big screen in front of you, this feels more like going out and watching a movie than jamming the movie into your cerebrum.
Total immersion is a different concept altogether, and while the cinema demo let us watch a movie with the belief we were in movie cinema, Samsung’s locally produced shark experience is a different beast.
Quite literally, there is a different beast.
The footage was a little grainy, but the idea easy to get across, with a deep blue ocean all around you, surrounded by lots of swimming fish, and coral underneath. You can look around you and follow the fish, seeing what they’re swimming away from as a shark begins to approach, and you can even look up, sewing the sun beating down on the water with a boat up above.
But because this isn’t interactive, you’ll find yourself eaten by the shark at one point, and even see what it’s like to go in the mouth of the beast, right before he decides to swallow you.
It’s an entertaining experience, though one that we could see would be dizzy to others, especially since it is very immersive, even if it is a touch grainy.
How the Gear VR is doing this is with the magic of that little initialise, VR, or “virtual reality,” whereby two screens are shown on the mobile phone, one for the left eye and the other for the right eye.
The idea isn’t a new one, but has had a recent resurgence as Oculus — now owned by Facebook — has picked up speed working on its Oculus Rift VR headsets, with Samsung now collaborating on the effort.
While the Rift is more or less made for PCs — and can currently only be ordered in a pre-production state mostly intended for developers — Samsung is ready with its half-step, the Gear VR, a product that takes the experience of VR and applies it to a mobile phone screen, or specifically, the Galaxy Note 4.
With a resolution of 2560×1440 across its 5.7 inch panel, the Gear VR can exhibit two 720p screens, one for each eye, showing both left and right on the screen at the same time and letting the Gear VR’s lenses amplify and focus this for your eyes.
The Gear VR will also include touchpads to let you control the action when the experience is interactive, and we’re even told there’s a camera pass through operating at 60 frames per second, which at one point could let you experience movies and games while seeing out the phone at the back, which will stop you from missing the stop on your train line, we’re sure.
Overall, we’re very impressed, and while Samsung normally builds a good product, both Oculus and Samsung have worked together to build a seriously capable and creative first-generation product, which will have access to more apps, games, and movies from the online Oculus store later in the year.