MIT’s MoVR Uses Millimeter Waves For Wireless PC-Based VR

by Jamie Feltham • November 17th, 2016

Wireless PC-based VR may not be as far off as we’d previously thought with the reveal of TPCAST’s upgrade kit for the HTC Vive, and other solutions may be coming soon too.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘s (MIT’s) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is working on its own wireless system that cuts the cord for PC VR, named MoVR. The tech uses millimeter waves radio signals, which offer faster internet connections than current WiFi standards, though are easily blocked by physical objects and reflections.

To overcome this issue, MoVR uses two directional antennas attached to programmable mirrors, pictured above, each around the size of a credit card. These steer the signals emitted by millimeter waves towards it and then reflect them towards the headset. With multiple mirrors, you can ensure your headset is receiving the signal at all times, and not risk losing it and temporarily causing issues with the experience. The millimeter waves can then deliver images to your headset, supposedly fast enough to replace the cords attached to your rig.

The project is still in its early stages, but PhD candidate Omid Abari told MIT News that future versions could be around the size of a smartphone. If the tech could be refined enough to be mass produced, then we could one day be putting these mirrors around our rooms along with Vive’s base stations of Rift’s sensors. We don’t know when that will be, though TYPCAST’s solution — which plugs directly into the Vive — is shipping in Q1 2017.

We’re not sure adding to the amount of tech needed to track VR is the answer to making it wireless, but fortunately there are other solutions on the way, the most promising of which being standalone devices with inside-out position tracking and on-board processing. Oculus has such a prototype as do several other companies. While we wait for these devices to close the power gap with PCs, though, concepts like MoVR could prove to be a compelling workaround.

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  • I’ve read about this project some days ago… very cool indeed. But TPCAST is shipping now… we will see when (and if) this will be commercially ready

  • yeah BS. The future belongs (as the last paragraph correctly pointed out) to standalone headsets with inside-out tracking. It will take a while to get there but in technology the solution that offers the least consumer friction is the one that always dominates. Standalone headsets are that solution.
    Someone might say: a powerful pc will always be able to push more polygons to your eyeballs. And installing a couple of base stations is a very small price to pay for such advantage (besides you only have to do it once). True, however looking at the bigger picture VR will inevitably merge with MR. Such a VRMR headset would be of limited scope when confined in one specific room. Inside out-tracking will have us moving freely wherever we please. And we won’t have to rely or indeed -CAN- rely on wired or wireless streaming. Again: standalone headsets such as the Oculus Santa Cruz prototype is the way to go.

    • mirak

      It’s like saying mobile phone gaming is the way to go because you can play anywhere.
      This will create revenue, but if you are serious about gaming you take a ps4 xbox or a pc, not a portable device.

      Or really like a backpack solution but that’s not ready to fit un a headset.

      • you are saying it as if it is a black or white situation. As if there are no performance differences even in PC gaming.
        You are saying it as if “you want serious gaming” you buy a 4000 euro machine, not a 1000 euro one. Yes the 4000 euro machine will give you a better experience and an NSA supercomputer even better. But I was talking about the average consumer. What product becomes dominant will be determined by the masses, not enthusiasts.
        If standalone VRMR headsets reach a performance/immersion level that is GOOD ENOUGH for the masses that will be the turning point. Again if you read my previous comment i said we are not there yet. But that’s where we are heading.
        Yes you will be able to get more polygons with your monstrous gaming rig while being locked in a room while everyone and their cats will walk around with VRMR that is GOOD ENOUGH. My money is on the latter.

        • mirak

          I am not saying the opposite.
          Mobile gaming as not killed the fixed gaming, because there is still a high demand for that.
          That’s why I don’t think cruz protype is the way to go, it is just a way to go.