GLOBAL DEFENSE MARKET
Samsung, Oculus Rift Target Defense Market
Samsung’s Gear VR, a virtual reality headset powered by a Galaxy Notebook smartphone and an Oculus Rift goggle can help the Pentagon with a number of training exercises, said Jamie Wu, senior manager of Defense Department sales for Samsung.
“The thought process is you can take a standard smartphone, load an application on there, and put it in the goggles and you’re off and running,” he said. “The phone just snaps in and … [uses] the display and processor to provide the content.”
While the system has been on the market for more than a year, much of its appeal has been for its entertainment value. However, it is especially useful as a tool for the military, Wu said.
One application is geared toward F-15E Strike Eagle maintainers. For “a mechanic, it’s hard often times to get them in the warehouse with the plane to … take it apart,” he said.
The system would give a mechanic a 360-degree virtual view of the aircraft, he noted.
While the military has for years used virtual reality for training, Gear VR differs because it is mobile-based, Wu said. A soldier using a Samsung device can check his emails or make phone calls one minute and then snap the system into the $100 headset to do some training, he said.
“When you move into a desktop solution, it’s a little more expensive, a little more robust environment. But being able to take it mobile I think provides a lot of unique advantages,” he said.
The U.S. military owns about 75,000 Samsung devices, Wu estimated. Gear VR is compatible with the Galaxy Note 4 and later versions of the smartphone.
It can also be configured for augmented reality using the phone’s camera, he said.
Samsung and Oculus Rift have developed their own apps that the military can use, but they also offer the option for the Pentagon to create its own, he said.
The company is currently testing Gear VR with the Navy, Wu said. “SEAL teams are testing some of this for training purposes.”