Samsung brings 360-degree videos to its virtual reality headset

Samsung released Milk VR, a platform for full-motion, 360-degree virtual reality videos, for its Gear VR headset on Tuesday. Milk VR only has a few videos for the Samsung Gear VR, but those who have experienced 360-degree video say it's incredibly immersive.

Gus Ruelas/Reuters/File
The Samsung Gear VR headset now offers full-motion, 360-degree videos through a new service. Here, developers test out the Oculus Rift VR headset at E3 on June 12, 2013.

Christmas may have come and gone, but Samsung hasn’t stopped bringing new virtual reality goodies to consumers every week. Each Tuesday since early December, the company has launched new apps for the Gear VR, its customer-friendly virtual reality headset.

This week brought a pretty major addition: Milk VR, an app that allows users to download or stream 360-degree videos to their headsets. The videos can be previewed at Samsung’s website: there are only ten available right now, all travel-themed, but that number will surely rise as Samsung (and others) add content.

Few people have experienced 360-degree video, but those who have say it’s a big step forward. Hayden Dingman, a correspondent for PC World, wrote in September that the videos on the Gear VR filled his field of view, even making him jump when he turned and noticed something in his peripheral vision. Virtual reality headsets, including the Gear VR, can also play conventional videos in a simulated theater environment, but 360-degree video is different: it fills a user’s field of vision, creating the sensation of being immersed.

The Gear VR, which went on sale in limited quantities in December, is the first consumer-friendly virtual reality headset to make it to market. The only competition is the Oculus Rift, which has received lots of buzz this year but is still in development. Oculus VR, the company behind the Rift, was acquired by Facebook in March for $2 billion; and in fact, Oculus made the software on which the Gear VR runs. The Gear VR costs $200 (plus the price of a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smart phone, which acts as the unit’s display and brains), so it won’t break the bank for most consumers.

Samsung allows people to register to upload videos to the Milk VR service, but the company is being pretty strict about what content is acceptable. (A glut of mediocre content would probably sour people on the idea of watching videos on a VR headset.) The Milk VR page says that videos must be shot in full 360-degree spherical format, and have to be at least 4096x2048 resolution so they don’t look blurry to users. This certainly isn’t the next YouTube -- not many people even have cameras capable of shooting 360-degree video -- but it’s a good way for Samsung to showcase high-quality content and entice developers and early adopters to try out the Gear VR.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Samsung brings 360-degree videos to its virtual reality headset
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today