Standalone VR headsets may well be the future of the industry, but they’re a long way off from packing the power of today’s modern PCs. The ultra-fast 60GHz wireless standard WiGig might offer a compelling workaround.
The Wi-Fi Alliance this week announced it launched the certification process for this network, and expects to start rolling out products that incorporate it sometime next year. With the technology installed, these products could offer connection speeds of up to 8Gbps, allowing for faster downloads (nearly 1GB per second) and browser navigation. This is done by sending data over higher frequencies and focusing signals between devices.
Faster, better Wi-Fi of course means great things for everything from gaming to streaming, but it could also be good news for VR. As we all know, VR requires minimal latency between player movement and the given experience to remain as comfortable and immersive as possible. Current Wi-Fi networks simply don’t offer the kind of speeds needed to achieve this, but it might be more viable over a WiGig connection.
For that to actually happen, a VR headset would need to incorporate WiGig technology, so don’t expect to cut the wires on your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift any time soon. But if a headset did incorporate the tech then it might be within reach to offer the some of the detail and visual fidelity of PC-based VR experiences mixed with the freedom of untethered headsets. That could be an interesting middle ground until prototypes like Oculus’ Santa Cruz headset are finally ready for a consumer release, which won’t be any time soon.
The trade-off is a short range as WiGig’s signal reaches 10 meters ,which would mean it wouldn’t cover every corner of some houses and roomscale experiences like those on the Vive would have to be placed within that distance.
While there aren’t any dedicated wireless VR headsets you can buy right now that connect to PCs in this way, there are mobile apps that stream gameplay onto a phone’s display that you can then view in mobile-based headsets. They offer a clunky experience, but one that could potentially be improved with WiGig. It will also be interesting to see if Quark VR’s wireless HTC Vive prototype could incorporate the tech going forward.