Samsung is making 'extended reality' wearable devices

The first product will use a version of Android built for virtual worlds.


Samsung's Unpacked event isn't just focused on the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy Book 3. The company has revealed to The Washington Post that it's working on "extended reality" (that is, augmented, mixed and virtual reality) wearable devices. While there aren't many details, the hardware will run a new, Google-designed version of Android designed with wearable displays in mind — this isn't Meta's heavily customized take on Android from the Quest line. Qualcomm will provide the chipset.

The "XR" hardware will also entail partnerships with Meta and Microsoft, although Samsung isn't elaborating further. Rumors have swirled that Microsoft axed HoloLens 3 in favor of this project. In an interview with The Post, mobile president TM Roh says the ecosystem has to be "somewhat ready" before launch. The tech giant wants to avoid the missteps of rivals who debuted comparable hardware without robust support.

Samsung is no stranger to wearable screens. The company leapt into the market with 2015's Gear VR, which used the smartphone as both the display and computing power. In 2017, the firm jumped into PC-oriented mixed reality headsets with the HMD Odyssey. Samsung largely left the market to rivals like Meta and HTC after 2018, however.

Whether or not the timing is right is another matter. Roh says Samsung has been working on its latest initiative for a while, and it may give the brand a quick counter to a long-rumored Apple headset that might debut this spring. With that said, Meta has been struggling with its metaverse efforts and cut 11,000 jobs to shrink costs last fall. Microsoft, meanwhile, has grappled with problems that include a halt to military HoloLens sales, the departure of the team lead over misconduct claims and reports the company may have scrapped the entire HoloLens unit as part of its recent layoffs. Samsung is reentering the mixed reality space right as some of the category's biggest players are flailing or bowing out — it's not certain if the Galaxy maker will fare better.