John Locher/AP Photo
Up until now, virtual reality headsets have had all the sex appeal of a pocket protector. Nerds only need apply. But Samsung found a way to give the digital equivalent of horse blinders some serious sizzle.
The Samsung Galaxy Experience Zone, in the main lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center, took attendees of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show on the equivalent of an immersive theme park ride.
People lined up for an hour or more for the opportunity to ski or snowboard down a virtual mountain, hurtle down a skeleton track at 120 mph or fly through the air with Pterodactyls.
Samsung’s Gear VR headsets provided realistic simulations of each setting — the icy skeleton track, ski jumps that seemingly propel the viewer airborne, a mountainous mogul run — while an amusement-park worthy simulator jostled the viewer with each move, to heighten the experience. Headsets provided the accompanying soundtrack.
The experience seemed to create enthusiasm to match the Consumer Technology Association’s projections that sales of AR/VR headsets will reach 4.9 million units in the U.S. this year, up 25% from 2017. Revenues are forecast to reach $1.2 billion, or 10% year-over-year growth.