2018 Is The Year Virtual Reality Goes Wireless

by Anshel Sag • January 1st, 2018

There was lots of promise earlier this year that we would have a bevy of wireless VR attachments and accessories, but by the looks of it, all we’ve got is TPCast for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Keep in mind that the TPCast solution doesn’t even utilize WiGig which means it’s a wholly proprietary solution and wouldn’t allow for any interoperability between any devices. In the short term, that makes sense because there are so few headsets, receivers, and emitters but in the long term, we need as much cross-platform compatibility as possible. VR is starting to pick up some steam, but the reality is that nobody disagrees that VR would be a lot more successful if it were wireless, too.

Wireless companies like AMD, Intel, Peraso, and Qualcomm have been developing WiGig chips specifically for the use of wireless VR solutions, but none of them have yet to come to market. Initially, the expectation was that many of them would come to market in Q4 of this year, but it seems that many of them got delayed into 2018. That means we could see solutions based on the four companies’ chipsets in wireless VR headsets and wireless adapters relatively soon. By the second half of 2018, we could see most of the VR industry transition to wireless solutions, which is a big deal for the industry because it overcomes one of the big hurdles for VR. I own a Rift, Vive, and PSVR and I absolutely would love to have all of them be wireless, even if it means needing a battery pack.

While no company has given concrete dates on when they will ship their chips in consumer products, yet, I expect that we’ll be getting a lot more details at CES 2018 in January. Offering wireless helps to solve one of the big pain points for VR, and it also utilizes current technology that can be up to the challenge. Raising the resolution of the displays is another pain point that needs resolving for VR, but one of the problems with that is that it makes wireless more difficult with current 60 GHz and WiGig solutions. There simply isn’t enough bandwidth or low enough latency in the 802.11AD standard to make 4K per eye wireless VR possible, even with foveated rendering. That’s why we will have to wait for the successor to WiGig or 802.11AD, which is 802.11AY.

802.11AY will have peak data rates of 20-40 Gbit/s or at least four times the bandwidth of 802.11AD and WiGig using the same 60 GHz spectrum. However, based on current timeframes we probably won’t see 802.11AY until 2019 at the very earliest based on current IEEE standards timeframes. However, draft 1.0 of the standard was set to complete in November of this year, and final approvals are due in 2019. I genuinely believe that 802.11AY will be the future of wireless VR because of its bandwidth capabilities and 802.11AD solutions will probably last us about two years.

My firm, Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided research, analysis, advising, and/or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry including AMD, Intel, Peraso and Qualcomm, cited or related to this article. I do not hold any equity positions with any companies cited in this column.

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  • impurekind

    I can’t wait for VR to go fully wireless while providing an experience that’s all-round at least as good as if not better than what we’re getting now wired. . . .

    • RFC_VR

      The new standalone 6DOF headsets will be really interesting, to realise positional tracking in an untethered device.

      I’ve been using current 3DOF devices (after a year of PC VR) and the freedom to spin around without entanglement is liberating. Well designed applications are very effective working within 3DOF implementation.

      every time I put PC VR back on that tether is unfortunately so so noticeable…I really look forward to integrated tetherless PC VR 👍

  • Mane Vr

    I guess i’m the only one who will be staying wired in and loving it. But i’m ok with that if vr becomes only playable via roomscale I’ll be done with vr.

  • Gonzalo Novoa

    Wireless is good, especially if you play roomscale but I can live without it right now. There are other aspects I’d like to see improved first, wider fow, more resolution.
    That being said, it’s clear devices will have to go wireless sooner or later but first they need to solve the problems with battery length, latency, weight, etc.

    • Brian Brown

      Agreed. I have a Vive, and the cord really doesn’t bother me for the most part. SDE does, and the second there is a Steam VR HMD that’s of a high enough resolution, I’m picking it up. As long as it works with my existing setup….

  • dk

    people from tpcast mentioned that they r working on 4k since the begining

    • Anshel Sag

      They literally told me that they’re not sure they can actually pull it off when I asked them about it earlier this year. Unless that’s changed.

      • dk

        latticesemiDOTcom/About/Newsroom/PressReleases/2017/201701TPCASTPartnerswithLatticeSemiconductor.aspx ….jan 2017
        who did u ask and what did they mean by it ……maybe they can’t do it by the end of the year or can’t do it with the current hardware or can’t do 4k per eye or can’t do the proper refresh rate ……….they need to make an official statement about it
        whey were saying they r working on it from the start

      • Joshwa Sanders

        4K would be really easy to achieve over 60GHz. I wouldn’t be surprised if TPCast was working on it.

  • mirak

    Foveated rendering would help a lot for resolution increase, because not only the gpu can render the outside of the fovea with less precision, but you can also compress it with a lot of loss.
    So something like dynamic resolution and compression over hdmi would help because the gpu knows the foveated area.
    It could be done by a device like tpcast, if it new what area is foveated, so the gpu would have to send some information through hdmi.

    I think there should be a new HDMI protocol for dedicated to VR.

  • iMinkYourDrilkShake

    “There was lots of promise earlier this year […], but by the looks of it, all we’ve got is TPCast for the HTC Vive.”

    Yes, TPCast for the HTC Vive. Well, TPCast for the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.

    “My firm, Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided research, analysis, advising, and/or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry including AMD, Intel, Peraso and Qualcomm, cited or related to this article. Sometimes, however, I carelessly neglect important information in blog posts, but endeavor to correct any mistakes in a timely fashion. Werd up.”

    • Anshel Sag

      Thanks for pointing that out, its technically the same device with a different mounting mechanism. Nevertheless, it does exist for both headsets now. Corrected.

      • iMinkYourDrilkShake

        Thanks. I’ve replaced my s$#%head comment.

  • nejihiashi88

    Vr won’t take off unless there is a good locomotion walking and running it’s not about being wireless.

    • Joshwa Sanders

      Non-ionizing radiation from RF signals does not cause any kind of cancer.

    • I agree with you. My company Brilliant Sole is solving this with simple, sensor embedded footwear that switch between multiple input control methods. We’ve found people want to control locomotion with their feet but they also need choice. Sometimes you want to sit, sometimes stand, sometimes walk-in-place, all the time want to see and feel feet in VR. Our platform is integrated with Unity but already emulates some existing controllers to work out of box. We’re launching a crowdfunding campaign early this year, and if successful will deliver in Q3. Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you’d like to learn more

  • gothicvillas

    TPCast is too cumbersome imo but better than nothing. As Im not really tech savvy (i love games but unable to build or fix pc myself – im a consumer), this wireless option by TPCast is not for me. I want device i can plug in and use. Maybe 2018?

  • The last part of the post is very informative, thank you for sharing. It seems that in 2019, AR and VR will change gear and start skyrocketing… it could also be the year that Oculus Rift CV2 will be released

  • ImperialDynamics

    Microsoft has said that they did not release a VR headset for Xbox because they wanted to make it wireless. So crossing fingers we’ll see Xbox VR in 2018. My brand new One X is ready.

  • nargorn

    TPCast just makes roomscale really doable. Before a lot of sword fights ended up in unplugging the cable including freezing apps and steam vr. Roomscale wired is a „contradictio in ipse“. But now it is really time for crispier sharper displays. And lighter Headsets which are not getting so damn hot.

    Loved my rift. Sold it for a Vive. Waiting for my Pimax. Come on industry, evolve!