HTC Vive goes wireless with some help from Intel

Virtual reality remains a niche corner of PC gaming, not just because of the sheer cost involved, but also physical issues like annoying cabling running from headset to PC. Fortunately, Intel is on the case with a wireless VR solution for the HTC Vive that it has been showing off over at E3 2017.

Trailing cables represent not just a tripping hazard, but a barrier to immersion, and there are already some wireless solutions for HTC’s headset, such as one from TPCast, and another effort which is underway from Quark VR

However, Intel is a far weightier name in the computer world, and the company is promising a slick solution based on DisplayLink XR technology. It recently showed this off at a presentation during Computex, and Intel had a proof of concept unit for folks to have a go with at E3.

One of the obvious potential issues with ditching the cable for a wireless solution is the connection degrading and introducing lag, which is never an acceptable proposition with games – let alone VR games where stuttering could invoke bouts of nausea.

WiGig wonder

Intel’s solution uses WiGig (based on the 802.11ad standard) working in the 60GHz band to enable a low latency wireless connection from headset to PC, with less than 7ms latency promised at all times (typical latency will be around 3-5ms, by all accounts).

And as Engadget writes, the prototype system being shown at E3 never caused gameplay to stutter, whereas the rival TPCast wireless solution did suffer from jerkiness at times, according to the reporter.

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So that sounds pretty promising, and certainly something to get excited about if you have the Vive headset and have dreamt of a room-scale VR experience free of any concerns about tripping over cables.

Apparently the prototype is a bit bulky at this point, but that’s not surprising with early versions of hardware, and we can expect it to slim down to something that will hopefully sit atop the user’s head in a comfortable and unassuming manner.

The DisplayLink XR will be powered by its own small battery, which according to the folks behind the project should be good for two hours of operation.

Back at Computex, Intel said that the product would be coming to market early next year. Meanwhile, on the eSports front, Intel is giving VR a big push with its Challenger League.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).