HTC and Intel are partnering up to bring WiGig wireless connectivity to the Vive VR headset, and will be showing off a proof of concept at this year’s E3 show. A wireless version of the powerful headset has been rumored for some time, and WiGig will apparently be the way it happens. WiGig is a WiFi-based communication standard that uses otherwise minimally utilized spectrum in the 2, 4, 5, and 60GHz bands for extremely high transfer speeds, up to 7Gbps, at short distances. The standard is fully compatible with existing Wi-Fi devices, which will make the new WiGig-enabled Vive a snap to integrate into an existing home VR setup. Those who are curious and happen to be heading to E3 this year can check out a proof of concept demo at Intel’s booth.
While a wireless full-power VR headset has a number of obvious benefits, WiGig itself carries a few less obvious perks. For starters, the incredibly high transfer speeds can be achieved between a Vive and a compatible PC regardless of how good the internet connection is. Those same high speeds also mean latency on the order of only about 7ms at most, in total from both sides. This means that actions outside the game will appear in the game practically instantly, helping to fight VR sickness. For reference, a normal PC or console game running at 60 frames per second shows one frame every 16.6ms. The super high speeds also mean that multiple users in the same area sharing a single connection can still enjoy great gameplay, and without worrying about tangled wires.
This WiGig-enabled Vive promises to be the most premium wireless VR experience yet. Software and hardware tweaks have allowed premium VR experiences to be delivered wirelessly, but with concessions. Mobile VR is wireless by definition, and can even give a user premium VR experiences with software like RiftCat, but latency on both the user input and machine output sides can be an issue on all but the best connections. 5G may fix that and begin to offer a wider range of premium VR experiences, but until 5G is fully rolled out and becomes mainstream, Intel and HTC’s new development is likely to remain the bleeding edge.