The new HTC Vive Wireless VR Kit sold out yesterday in 18 minutes. We’ve always said people want VR without cables. Mobile VR is self-contained but HTC just made high-end immersive experiences tether free.
This is the future of Virtual Reality – full freedom of movement.
The TPCAST addon
Vive X company TPCAST offered the $220 device through a Chinese website. Priority went to current Vive owners (they asked for serial numbers). The unit includes a wireless transmitter that fits on the top of your Vive headset. A battery pack to power the unit attaches to the back of the headset strap.
Alvin W. Graylin, a Regional President of Vive at HTC, said a longer battery life version will be available but not in the first production run. The unit will ship in Q1 of 2017.
Here’s the details from UpLoadVR:
TPCAST’s product is an accessory that attaches to the Vive and wirelessly connects to a PC, allowing you to play any Vive game without having to physically tether the headset to the machine. Graylin told us that there was “no noticeable difference” when using the kit compared to a regular Vive, though we haven’t been able to go hands-on yet to verify that for ourselves. A translation of TPCAST’s website notes that the kit has a “lowest latency” of 15ms, however.
HTC Vive Wireless VR is the future
HTC has a winning combination here – a way to cut the cord while still keeping you in the boundaries of a virtual space. The latter is done through their Room Scale feature which throws up a virtual grid when you get close to the preset boundaries. Right now, the TPCAST device is an add-on. In the future, it will be standard. According to Ars Technica, Oculus is also working on a wireless VR headset with inside-out tracking.
Does this impact Mobile VR solutions? Their selling point has always been full freedom of movement (with the trade-off in the quality of the experience). For now, Vive is still an expensive piece of hardware – requiring an even more expensive computer. So Google and others are safe for now. But as high-end VR adopts wireless solutions and hardware prices plunge, the two solutions will merge.
In the end, all VR headsets will be cable free. It will just be a question of what you want in features and how much you are willing to pay.
The move toward high-end wireless VR headsets was already underway. Take a look at Intel’s Project Alloy. But that’s a longer term project while Vive is already on the market.
The HTC Vive wireless VR device is a game-changer. And in no small measure, a glimpse into the future of Virtual Reality.
Emory Craig is a writer, speaker, and VR consultant with extensive experience in art, new media, and higher education. He speaks at global conferences on innovation, education, and ethical technology in the future. He has published widely and worked with the US Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Living at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling, he is fascinated by AI-based avatars, digital twins, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.