Samsung and Nintendo raise the stakes in VR and AR consumer battle

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Virtual reality (VR) technology is gaining traction within enterprise and business, long-held to be the areas in which it can be of most use, while its augmented sibling is already attractive to the average consumer, as Pokémon GO proved.

But what can be achieved in VR and augmented reality (AR) next to establish both technologies in the hearts and minds of consumers?

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit—Playtime is just getting started

Nintendo announced this week that it’s releasing a VR kit through Nintendo Labo, the videogame giant’s gaming and construction toy platform.

The Nintendo Labo: VR Kit is set to be released on 12 April.

Nintendo billed the new kit as a combination of “the innovative physical and digital gameplay of Nintendo Labo with basic VR technology to create a simple and shareable virtual reality experience for kids and families”.

Aimed at kids, the Nintendo Labo: VR Kit offers six new Toy-Con creations to build, including the Toy-Con VR Goggles, which combine with the other creations to allow players to interact with the virtual world through imaginative real-world actions.

“Fend off an alien invasion with the Toy-Con Blaster, visit a colourful in-game ocean and snap photos of the sea life with the Toy-Con Camera and so much more,” Nintendo explained in a statement.

“This new kit builds on the core tenets of Nintendo Labo—make, play and discover—to introduce virtual reality in a way that’s fun and approachable for both kids and kids at heart,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We wanted to design an experience that encourages both virtual and real-world interactions among players through passing around Toy-Con creations.”

The new kit, which has to be used in conjunction with the $299 Nintendo Switch, will launch with two primary configurations, aimed at beginners and kids serious about playing in VR.

Samsung and Nintendo raise the stakes in VR and AR consumer battle

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit: Available at a suggested retail price of $79.99, the complete Nintendo Labo: VR Kit includes the Nintendo Switch software and materials to build all six Toy-Con projects, as well as a screen holder and safety cap. Nintendo described it as “a good option for kids and families who want to dive in to the full experience”.

Samsung and Nintendo raise the stakes in VR and AR consumer battle

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit—Starter Set + Blaster: Available at a suggested retail price of $39.99, the Starter Set includes the Nintendo Switch software, plus all the components to build the Toy-Con VR Goggles and Toy-Con Blaster, as well as the screen holder and safety cap. “The Starter Set is a great entry point into the world of Nintendo Labo VR,” Nintendo said. Players that own the Starter Set can also purchase two optional expansion sets priced at $19.99 each.

Samsung Galaxy S10—VR phone home

The new Galaxy S10 smartphone from Samsung, announced late last month, isn’t being billed for its VR and AR capabilities, but they are certainly there.

In its announcement, Samsung made a big deal of the fact that the Galaxy S10 will boast a 5G version, allowing owners to “download a full season of a TV show in minutes, play graphics-rich cloud games with virtually no lag, enjoy enhanced VR and AR experiences and stay in touch with friends and family via real-time 4K video calls”.

Samsung and Nintendo raise the stakes in VR and AR consumer battle

The hardware in the Galaxy S10 backs up this 5G capability and the device’s ability to allow its owners to enjoy VR and AR experiences. The smartphone boasts the largest-ever Galaxy S series display, the 6.7-inch Infinity-O Display, as well as a camera for three-dimensional image capturing to power Video Live Focus and Quick Measure.

The 5G revolution is getting original equipment manufacturers, operators and platform providers around the world excited about its potential, with Qualcomm recently teaming up with dozens of partners to deliver XR-enabled 5G smartphones.

Dublin-based immersive content company VRAI recently developed an AR app for Samsung as part of the launch of its new Galaxy S10 smartphone range, to demonstrate its capabilities.

The app from VRAI allows users to ‘place’ Samsung’s range of smartphones, tablets and wearables on any flat surface they point the device at. It allows users to compare the key features of the products, the sizes, colours and unique selling points.

The Galaxy S10 was available from 8 March. Pricing starts at $899.99 for the Galaxy S10, $999.99 for the Galaxy S10+ and $749.99 for the Galaxy S10e.

VRand to a lesser extent, AR—might not be in the hands of the average consumer just yet, but with some of the world’s biggest technology companies now incorporating them into their products, they are increasingly becoming a reality.