With the Gear VR on sale since the end of 2015, Samsung has turned its attention to apps and accessories. At MWC we saw some prototype motion controllers and here at SXSW, it looks like Samsung wants to take it even further with Entrim 4D.
Samsung’s Creative Lab, or C-Lab, is showing off what appears to be a pretty average looking pair of headphones at SXSW.
But put them on and you’ll experience a whole different kind of VR.
Basically, Entrim 4D uses a combination of algorithms and Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS) to send electric messages to an inner ear nerve, which then signals your brain to feel movement.
These electrical signals are like the ones used to help stroke patients regain balance and, according to Samsung, aren’t harmful.
It sounds bonkers but so far, it definitely works.
I tried them on for myself for a quick one minute demo – which was all the time I needed to feel the weird sensations of stationary movement.
After putting on the headphones, in which electrodes have been stuck to the inside of the headphone cups placed directly next to your ear, I was given a Gear VR headset without the straps on.
This is because wearing a Gear VR with the regular strap set up placed right above your ears might impede the electrical signals by knocking the headphones out of place. Since the Entrims are only prototypes, they need to be perfectly situated.
The VR video begins with a car zooming down a race track and an engineer was careful to explain at the start that I’m not the one controlling the car’s movement. A text pop up then lets me know that I should be experiencing the feeling of turning as the car makes its way around the track.
I felt an odd sensation at first, but it’s pretty quick and I was left wondering if that was it. However more words pop up on the screen to let me know that I would experience the video with the ‘movement mode’ off and then on again for a bit longer.
The effect is gradual but entirely noticeable and I was actually left with the feeling of turning my body even though it was still standing in one spot, not in the seat of a race car.
Entrim 4D: What’s next
Along with the usual quest for deeper immersion, Samsung hopes this will be one option to ease the queasiness if you get motion sickness from VR. It’s unclear when or if the headset will ever see a consumer release but it would be a no doubt be a popular accessory for Gear VR, or any mobile VR device, considering the form factor.
Because C-lab is an innovation program under Samsung, that employs different teams to research and develop various projects, it means that all the tech on display at SXSW are prototypes.
Determining Entrim 4D’s eventual price point is tricky since it’s still early but we reckon something along the $250 and up category seems fitting with the electrodes and algorithms.
Samsung has been damn generous with its Gear VR pricing and to match that level while considering mass market accessibility, the headphones would have to be on the more affordable end.
It’s just a prototype but any mobile VR fan should be looking to see Entrim 4D in some shape or form in the future as a fully realized VR accessory.