Samsung is diving into mixed reality with its new Odyssey headset

Just when you were thought you’d figured out the differences between virtual reality, augmented reality, and 360-degree video, it’s time to learn a new phrase: mixed reality.

 Samsung announced today that it’s launching a new headset, called Odyssey, for Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft’s forthcoming platform for a version of virtual reality that can take advantage of the real world around a user. Whereas augmented reality can identify planes, such as walls and floors, mixed reality can recognize what’s happening in the world in greater depth, like the legs on a chair.

Samsung’s device looks a lot like other virtual-reality headsets on the market, but what makes it “mixed”—rather than strictly virtual reality— is the headset’s built-in cameras that allow it to track the user’s movements in a room, as well as overlay virtual information onto the real world. It’s like a version of Microsoft’s own HoloLens, except that users will need to connect this headset to a computer to power it.

The Odyssey will cost $500, which is the same as Oculus and HTC’s roughly comparable headsets. It’s a massive jump from the $120 that Samsung’s only other headset, the Gear VR, costs. But this system is expected to produce a far more immersive, detailed experience than what a Gear VR, running off a smartphone, can provide. It also comes bundled with a set of handheld controllers and built-in surround-sound headphones.

The device will require a new version of Microsoft’s latest operating system, called Windows 10 Creators Update, according to The Verge, which will be out Oct. 17. The headset is available for preorder today, and should ship Nov. 10.

Mike Murphy

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