HTC is Working With Intel To Create A WiGig Wireless Solution for The Vive

by Joe Durbin • January 9th, 2017

CES has now officially come to an end and it was relatively light on virtual reality news when compared to the previous few years. However, HTC — the creators of the Vive high-end, PC powered VR headset — were on hand for a press conference that teased and revealed an intriguing road map of new hardware strategies for 2017. Among these revelations was the Vive Tracker and Deluxe Audio Strap, but another announcement flew somewhat under the radar. According to one of HTC’s top Vive executives at CES, Daniel O’Brien, Intel has been working with the Taiwanese company to develop a wireless solution for the Vive.

Wireless Vives were something of a theme at this year’s CES. Three companies: KwikVR, Rivvr, and TPCAST, were all on-hand in Las Vegas to showcase clip-on boxes that eliminate the Vive’s many chords (with varying degrees of success). O’Brien’s announcement from the HTC press conference, however, may point to something larger than a simple accessory.

tpcast

This is an HTC Vive using the TPCAST wireless accessory.

In his remarks, O’Brien stated that HTC and Intel are collaborating on a “WiGig wireless solution for the HTC Vive.” WiGig is the term for a new, ultra-high speed, wireless Internet connection that is significant to wireless VR for a few reasons. The first is latency. Every millisecond an image takes to properly render in your Vive increases the latency of the image. You don’t want to move your head in a VR world and wait for the world to catch up — it could significantly contribute to cases of motion sickness. The standard WiFi wireless options we’ve seen are, for the most part, expected to be far too latent to be useful, but a WiGig solution could put that to rest theoretically.

The second problem that WiGig could help solve for wireless VR is compression. In order for the complex images of a given VR experience to be properly streamed from your PC to your headset the image needs to be compressed to some extent. Compression reduces the already low resolution of existing VR displays which is far from ideal for an evolutionary new technology.

We had the chance to speak with a representative from Intel on the show floor at CES who chose to remain anonymous. This source was able to confirm that the partnership exists and pointed to Intel’s past collaborations with HTC as an indication of where the project may lead. When asked if the final product would be an add-on accessory or an integrated solution the source replied by saying that:

“We’re working with them. That’s really all I can say at this time but stay tuned for further updates.”

Even though the VR news at CES wasn’t as plentiful as past years, there were still some big nuggets sprinkled throughout to chew on. The advent and potential of wireless VR is certainly chief among them.

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  • Your TPCAST hands-on says it’s using 60GHz wifi which means it’s also using WiGig. Guessing this announcement means they’re putting the chip in the next version of the headset and not as an accessory.

  • Allan

    What a time to be alive…

  • It would be great if this kit is compatible with Rift, too

  • Augure

    Too little, too late…250$ more on an already expensive headset, to remove cables that should’ve been here in the first place?

    • Nicholas

      Don’t buy it then.

    • DougP

      Re: “Too little, too late”
      This silly – based on what?

      Too little – as opposed to what? How much *more* wireless did you expect it to be?
      Too late – ummm… ok, so like the Touch controllers are too late? Too late for *what* exactly? Everyone’s already purchased the *alternative* wireless VR system so now they’ll not spend on their Vive?

      Re: “250$ more on an already expensive headset”
      Again…. doesn’t make sense.
      Expensive headset – there are TWO major VR systems for the PC, the Vive is the cheaper of the 2x for this configuration.
      Or you’re just saying “expensive” in-general? Ummm….ok, based on what? We’ve established it’s not that it’s *expensive* in comparison to actual competition. Expensive compared to say a $800 phone or tablet that people buy (frequently every year or two) with expendable $?

      Heck, the 3-in-1 cable is $40. For someone replacing that cable this is $210 more for complete wireless freedom. As well, it seems likely in the future we could see a bundle with wireless for ~$200 more & many would pay extra for the freedom.

  • Bruce

    The tethered issue was the one thing holding me back from pulling the trigger on Vive. If they get this sorted out in Q3 or Q4 then I’m totally in. Tripping over wires just ruined the experience for me.

    • DougP

      Re: “If they get this sorted out in Q3 or Q4 then I’m totally in”
      You should be “in” earlier then, as they’re saying Q1.

      Re: “Tripping over wires just ruined the experience for me”
      Odd, I’ve had Vive for 9mos (since April) & spent hundreds of hours in it, demo’ing for dozens of people….& no one has ever tripped.
      Had a few people more inclined to get an occasional tangle, but teach them to be aware & usually everyone gets it.

      I think that some people are just less *spatially* aware and are more inclined to tangle their legs?

      • Bruce

        I found that whenever I did a 360 degree turn that I would basically get wrapped up in the cord. This was a demo so it could have just been the way it was set up. I could probably arrange the cord if I had one so as not to have this issue but I’d much rather wait until an appropriate solution is found. If they’ve already got one on the way I’ll be there, cash in hand. The experience was definitely something new and worth the early adopter price. I have friends in the same boat that are simply waiting to get rid of the cords.

        I am aware there’s an “add on” wireless option now but I’d prefer that Vive actually produce one incorporated into the unit. Then I can use that money to buy other attachments etc.