HTC surprised the VR community last week when it announced that TPCAST, one of the companies inducted into its Vive X accelerator program, was working on a $220 wireless upgrade kit for the HTC Vive. Needless to say, some people were skeptical.
The most common concerns are about possible latency issues. A wired Vive offers low latency head-tracking and position-tracked controls to ensure a comfortable and immersive experience. Increasing that latency in any way is a risk to both of those factors, though TPCAST claims the kit adds less than 2 milliseconds of delay. An older web page had listed latency of at least 15ms. We’ve since been told through HTC that this earlier number was outdated information referring to a different product.
Until we go hands-on with the kit we simply won’t be able to address that skepticism, and HTC is aware of this.
Speaking to UploadVR over email, Alvin W. Graylin, China Regional President of Vive at HTC, said that it was “understandable” that people were concerned about such issues “as this is a breakthrough innovation for high-end VR.”
“The updated specs released by TPCast should help to relieve some of their concerns, but ultimately, first hand experience will be the real proof when the product is made available for broader review,” Graylin added. “The good news for all current Vive users and those considering Vive is that there is a clear path to wireless VR coming for current devices if they need it.”
Making VR wireless is one of the biggest hurdles ahead of the industry right now, with many looking to mobile VR headsets using smartphone and standalone solutions. TPCAST’s upgrade kit could potentially offer a wireless solution without losing the power afforded by a VR-ready PC. The kit went up for pre-order in China last week and sold out very quickly. Another chance to order should be coming next month, and hopefully let people across the globe grab one. A standard model will ship first in Q1 2017, while another with a larger battery will follow later on in that window.