A patent awarded by China’s Intellectual Property Office to Samsung reveals what seems to be a new version of the Samsung Odyssey, with four tracking cameras.
The patent was spotted by 91Mobiles. This is a design patent, rather than a utility patent, so we can only derive information from it visually and by the filing dates.
Odyssey is Samsung’s brand for its PC VR headsets. The original Odyssey launched in late 2017 and the successor, Odyssey+, launched in 2018. Both existing headsets use the same OLED displays as Oculus Quest and HTC Vive Pro, with lens separation adjustment and built-in headphones.
Odyssey headsets are powered by Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) PC VR platform and tracking system. But WMR also supports SteamVR, so they can play most VR games on Steam.
Upgraded Tracking, Intriguing New Design
The patent contains a design drawing sketch as well as two full color renders from Samsung. The images show two bulbous semi-transparent hemispheres on each side of the front. In one rendering they are blue, while in the other they’re red.
While some speculated (based on renders that 91Mobiles included in its post which do not appear to have come from the actual filing) that this headset ditches inside-out tracking for SteamVR “Lighthouse” tracking, looking at the actual drawings and renderings included with the patent this doesn’t appear to the case.
The images clearly show two cameras in the standard positions for a WMR headset, as well as two new cameras on the sides. These extra cameras should allow the controllers to still be tracked when the user is reaching the controllers out to the sides, similar to Facebook’s Oculus Rift S. The cameras appear to be behind the semi-transparent colored material, but it is possible to have materials which are transparent only in one direction, or only to certain wavelengths of light.
The traditional halo strap has been replaced by a hybrid design which has a small halo at the front as well as a traditional Oculus Rift-like headband. This is an interesting approach to comfort that we’re curious to try out.
There is no indication that this is a standalone headset (ie. Oculus Quest competitor). The design appears to feature an adjustment dial and volume buttons, just like the PC-based Odysseys, but there are no extra buttons for power nor any kind of power LED like you’d expect from a mobile device. Integrated headphones would also be an unusual choice for a standalone headset for durability reasons, and there is no sign of a 3.5mm port for earphones.
Is This A Product?
The patent was applied for 3 January 2019- over one year ago. This could mean that the product has had a relatively long development cycle. But it could also mean that the design never made it into a product, or that Samsung withdrew the product before shipping.
Companies frequently patent designs that never make it to market. But in this particular case, Samsung is an experienced hardware company with a rapid release cycle which had already refreshed the Odyssey after one year, and we’re now more than a year on from the Odyssey+.
If this is a product, it could offer fierce competition for Facebook’s Oculus Rift S, a headset for which a main selling point has been having more tracking cameras than WMR competition.
We’ll keep a close eye on Samsung this year for any further teases or announcements.