Fans of virtual reality say the technology is going to connect people like never before, and Samsung obviously believes in this vision. The tech company has unveiled a new prototype app, Bedtime VR Stories, designed to let parents telling their children bedtime stories over virtual reality.
The app is still a prototype at this point, but Samsung says it's currently being tested with select families in the UK. The parent wears a Gear VR while the child wears a Google Cardboard headset (decorated with one of three character masks), and both enter the same virtual world. The parent then narrates the story, titled Most Wonderful Place to Be, which sees them traveling between three "magical places" while sitting on their bed.
The graphics are basic, but the concept is sound
"First stop is the Arctic, in the company of Jen the Penguin. Next, Dan the Dinosaur takes them to meet the rest of his family in a pre-historic world. Finally, they fly into outer space with Robot Jo, for a musical finale," says Samsung's press release. The entire story is also available to watch as a 360-degree YouTube video, and the app itself looks like it only works with the Galaxy S7 Edge and Gear VR headset.
Samsung isn't saying when they might release the software to a wider audience, but they may have hit upon a pretty fantastic idea. Although the VR graphics and character animation look very basic, the idea of placing both parent and child on the same virtual bed as they explore new lands has a lot of potential. As a conceptual setting, it's also easy to understand while working around the limitations of VR.
Imagine if Samsung partnered with Disney or Pixar to bring familiar characters and fluid animation to its Bedtime VR Stories. Many parents have already moved on from the bedtime phone call to the bedtime video chat — could virtual reality be the next step?
Update April 29th, 11.25AM: Story has been updated to clarify that the child wears a Google Cardboard headset — not a Gear VR.