Samsung is ‘working out’ a roadmap for mixed reality devices

  • Samsung is working on a roadmap for so-called mixed reality products, Patrick Chomet, an executive vice president at the company, told CNBC.
  • Mixed reality is seen by the tech giants as the next big shift in computing just like the smartphone was, and so companies from Meta to Microsoft are investing in it.
  • Samsung partnered this year with Qualcomm and Google to develop mixed reality.
  • The focus on the technology comes as reports suggest Apple is preparing to release a mixed reality headset in the spring.

Samsung is working on a roadmap for its mixed reality products, according to a top executive. But Samsung has experimented with virtual technologies before. In 2015, the company launched a virtual reality headset called Gear VR (pictured). It was eventually discontinued. Now Samsung is looking for a new direction in mixed reality, an area tech giants believe could mark a major shift in computing.

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BARCELONA, Spain – Samsung is working on a roadmap for so-called mixed reality products, a top executive of the South Korean tech giant told CNBC, as it looks to push into devices that many electronics makers see as key to future growth.

Mixed reality has been touted as the next big shift in computing just as the smartphone was, and so companies from Meta to Microsoft are investing in it.

Mixed reality refers to technologies that blend the virtual and physical worlds. This may involve augmented reality where virtual images or video are superimposed on the real world. Mixed reality apps and experiences can be accessed via headsets worn by a user.

Patrick Chomet, an executive vice president at Samsung Electronics, told CNBC in an interview that the company is “working out” a roadmap for mixed reality products. He declined to give details on when such a product might be released.

Chomet, speaking to CNBC at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ​​Spain, highlighted Samsung’s partnerships with Alphabet’s Google and US chip giant Qualcomm that were announced in February. The three companies gave very few details about what the partnership entails, but said it would focus on mixed reality.

Qualcomm sells a series of chips called Snapdragon XR that are specifically designed for mixed reality products such as headsets. Samsung has many years of experience in hardware design. While Google’s strength lies in the Android operating system and developers who create apps for it.

However, Chomet said the partnership is not just about the three companies, but is also designed to grow the mixed reality market.

“The reason we announced is, beyond Qualcomm, Google and Samsung alone, we want to prepare the entire ecosystem. There will be many, many developers, content companies and app companies that will prepare innovation and experiences for that ecosystem,” Chomet said .

“Yes, we can do devices. Yes, Qualcomm can do chipsets, yep. Yes, Google can do OS (operating system). But ultimately we need more than that, to create a living ecosystem.”

Samsung is no stranger to these virtual experiences. The company launched its first virtual reality headset in 2015 called Gear VR. At the time, it was built by Oculus, the company Facebook owns. Samsung discontinued the Gear VR in 2020 when the device failed to take off in a big way.

At the time, the product required a smartphone to be inserted into the headset. But electronics manufacturers are moving away from this model and towards wireless headsets.

Samsung’s Chomet said that while virtual reality is good for gaming, “we think there’s more potential in some mixed reality … so we’re going to advance the roadmap in that direction.”

Leo Gebbie, an analyst at CCS Insight, said some sort of “smart glasses would fit beautifully” into Samsung’s portfolio of devices from smartphones to watches.

“Along with its smartphones, it already has wearable devices such as the Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Buds. All of these will be optimized to work together to deliver the best possible user experience, promoting the ecosystem connectivity that many large tech companies are so focused on today,” said Gebbie .

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