Cables are a nightmare. PCs and workstations that do not have any effective cable management can be hell to use. Virtual Reality on the PC has shown the other issue that comes with wires. Users have previously complained about restrained movement and complex setup issues. Several companies have taken this chance to develop their own version of untethered VR. MIT are developing their own version, which imitates existing technology. However, they might be joining in slightly too late as VR technology moves past the need for a dedicated PC to function.
Untethered VR and its appeal
It’s immediately apparent what makes untethered VR a target for innovation. No-one likes carrying cables around; it’s the whole reason we moved to mobile phones after all. However, a significant issue with going wireless is that it can create serious latency issues. For gamers especially, even half a second of delay between input and execution is unacceptable. Traditional wireless transmission options, however, tend to have a lot of latency.
MIT have designed a device that works around this issue by utilising millimetre waves, similar to that used in full-body airport scanners. The device means that transmission is in Gbps, equivalent to fibre-optic cable and reducing issues with latency. It still requires a device plugged into both the headset and the computer, but its a start. In a statement, MIT professor Dina Katabi explains, “The ability to use a cordless headset really deepens the immersive experience of virtual reality and opens up a range of other applications.”
Joining an already busy club
The technology that MIT are working with is no doubt amazing, but not really groundbreaking. Several companies have already begun work on untethered VR options. HTC, for example, have already hinted at their latest iteration of the Vive will be wireless. As far back as September, we reported on a company in Bulgaria working on their own wireless solution. Another, Immersive Robotics, has developed their own wireless transmitter which they say will be commercially available early next year. CES in January will likely have plenty of companies offering their own version of untethered VR. At this stage, we might even see fully free VR headset that is just as powerful as the Vive or Oculus.
MIT might well be late to the party this time around. However, unless a company comes out with a fully untethered VR headset that can run without a PC and deliver the same experience or better than what is currently on the market, there might be a short period where there is a market for these transmitters.