A new standard called VirtualLink will let next-gen VR devices use the same type of cable.
One of the problems with setting up a virtual reality (VR) system is that a lot of the cables and connectors are entirely proprietary. For example, an Oculus Rift cable will only work with an Oculus Rift. If your cable develops a problem it can be expensive to replace. A new industry consortium will soon chance that with the introduction of the new VirtualLink specification.
The VirtualLink consortium is being led by well-known industry names such as Nvidia, Oculus, Valve, AMD and Microsoft who have collaborated to introduce a new specification that will allow next-generation VR headsets to connect with PCs or other devices using a high-bandwidth USB Type-C cable.
The new connection has been labelled as an Alternate Mode of USB-C, and it allows for VR setup to be simplified and sped up, making the process easier for consumers, removing one of the barriers towards mass adoption for VR.
The adoption of the new standard means that VR requires fewer ports, which means immersive experiences are now possible for users who own smaller devices with fewer ports, such as lightweight notebooks.
The VirtualLink standard has been purpose-built for VR, and has been optimised for latency and bandwidth demands, a crucial component of ensuring a smooth and comfortable VR experience for users. VirtualLink allows for four high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes, which are scalable for future requirements; a USB3.1 data channel can support streaming data from high-resolutions sensors and cameras as well as up to 27 watts of power.
“At Oculus, we’re committed to making VR easily approachable for a wide variety of people,” said Nate Mitchell, head of Rift, at Oculus. “A consolidated connection point is critical in removing barriers to experiencing high-powered PC VR. With the adoption of VirtualLink technology, purpose-built for VR, we look forward to helping push the industry forward into the next phase of VR.