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Experiences

immersivecomputing @ Samsung, Kings Cross London

Visited: February 2020

Thanks to the power of social media I discovered a Samsung Odyssey VR headset was being used at the Samsung experience store in London’s Kings Cross district.

The Odyssey and it’s successor the Odyssey Plus were never distributed in Europe, for reasons only Samsung knows – I did ask before and was told “Not part of the European range”…

They did offer to sell me a Samsung Odyssey VR ready PC though?

Having seen a picture of the Odyssey headset being used, in London, of course I went straight there the next day to track down this mystical VR beast.

Odyssey Plus was from many reports the best of the Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) system with OLED panels, screen door filter, AKG on-board headphones, mechanical IPD adjustment, built-in Bluetooth and more rounded controllers.

The Samsung experience store is located in the ‘Coal Drop Yards’ just behind Kings Cross railway station. Walking to the top floor where the huge store is located, I was greeted by a friendly member of staff who showed me around.

Some amazing technology was on show including smart appliances and a mock-up showing the cabin of Samsung’s new electric car. Gaming devices, smartphones and everything else you’d expect, but some gems like this gaming adapter for a smartphone that seems to be interfacing with Steam?

At the rear of the store sat 2 Samsung branded motion simulator rigs hosted by a very polite lady who offered to reshoot my video if her first attempt wasn’t suitable, but she did a stellar job the first time, many thanks!

She explained the rigs were built by FANATEC (wheel, pedals, frame) for Samsung, paired with Samsung Odyssey VR ready PC and Samsung Odyssey Plus VR headset. Free to use whenever the store is open, and a permanent display.

Having never seen an Odyssey but heard of ergonomic issues (mainly discomfort) I was intrigued. It was difficult to get on my head as the AKG ear speakers had to be pulled apart whilst I pushed the headset onto my face, like a face hugger!

Once on my head, it was surprisingly comfortable with plush padding; easy to adjust IPD with a wheel underneath. A quick wiggle to settle it on my head and the application started, “Project Cars” which I’ve never tried before.

I was free to drive for as long as I wanted as the store was quiet and had a great session, but was also interested in asking about Odyssey’s availability in Europe and looking at the headset and simulator rig more closely.

She replied that she didn’t know about availability as it wasn’t part of the product range for this market. I gave feedback that there are a lot of European gamers who wanted the Odyssey with some resorting to using import specialists, and we’d appreciate the chance to purchase officially in country.

The experience itself was excellent with the amazing FANATEC motion simulator and force feedback wheel providing beautiful proprioceptive input allied with the higher resolution OLED panels giving a vibrant environment. The small AKG headphones sounded good and blocked out the background noise of the store.

I recommend visiting if in the area, the Coal Drops Yard has some great retail and food on offer. My thanks to the staff at Samsung Kings Cross for the demo, the store is found here:

https://www.samsung.com/uk/explore/kings-cross/

Thanks for reading! Rob Cole @ immersive_computing

By immersivecomputing.org

Human exploration of the immersive computing interface