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Report: Oculus VR, Samsung collaborating on VR headset with smartphone as screen

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Samsung and Oculus VR are working together to produce a virtual reality headset for games and other media, with Samsung's next-generation smartphones set to serve as the device's screen, reports Engadget.

Last week, Engadget reported that Samsung was developing its own VR headset, likely for smartphone- and tablet-based games; that report said the company wanted to beat the Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus to market. According to today's follow-up, Samsung is actually making the device in conjunction with Oculus, the VR firm that Facebook acquired earlier this year for $2 billion.

The Korean electronics giant is reportedly building the hardware while Oculus is developing the software, and the companies are exchanging their work. Citing "sources close to both companies," Engadget reports that Samsung is providing upcoming OLED screens to Oculus, which is offering Samsung early access to its software development kit for mobile platforms. In addition, Oculus is planning to use those displays — which are "higher def than 1080p," according to Engadget — in the consumer version of the gaming-focused Oculus Rift.

Samsung is reportedly planning to use those high-resolution OLED screens in some of its future smartphones, which would apparently serve as the basis for the headset. In essence, the phone would fit directly into the front of the headset, and the smartphone's screen would sit a few inches from the player's eyes. That design would allow for the phone's rear-facing camera to work as a pass-through viewer, letting the player see out into the world.

Motion tracking would be handled by the headset's built-in technology, and the device would work for gaming with a paired controller. Engadget's sources indicate that Samsung will also promote this headset as a media player, in the same vein as Sony's HMZ head-mounted displays. A company called GameFace is working on a similar device, a self-contained Android-based headset that goes by the same name. For more on virtual reality headsets, check out our reports on the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus.

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