While it's still hard to tell if VR is going to become a permanent part of our electronics landscape, the first generation of headsets has pretty much established itself. Accessory makers are now working on ways to cut the headset's wiring. TPCast has a wireless kit for the HTC Vive, while Zotac wants to put a PC on your back and pack it with batteries. Sixa is the latest company to that party with its Rivvr Wireless VR Upgrade Kit. Sixa makes some ambitious claims about its wireless system, saying it's compatible with all modern VR headsets," easy to set up, and has "zero latency."
Where the TPCast Vive-specific kit we looked at recently comes with additional tracking hardware, the Rivvr transmits your movements over 2.4GHz or 5Ghz Wi-Fi connection. In an interview with Tom's Hardware, Sixa CEO Mykola Minchenko says the Rivvr currently adds about 11ms of latency, and that the company expects to bring that down to 6ms by the time the hardware launches. Both figures are well under the 20ms latency marker that John Carmack says is good enough for most people.
Tom's Hardware's Kevin Carbotte writes that he sat in on a video conference session and watched a demonstration in which Sixa CTO Ievgen Nechaiev played with Tilt Brush and Space Pirate Trainer on the HTC Vive, claiming that the kit doesn't appear to introduce any noticable latency. As Carbotte notes, though, he didn't try the kit himself.
The Rivvr will come in two variants: a head-mounted pack that offers 3 hours of battery life, and a belt-mounted unit that can juice up the transmitter for 5 hours. Although Sixa claims the Rivvr will be universally-compatible with all headsets, the company only mentions the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive by name.
According to Tom's, Sixa's main business is "cloud-based desktop hosting." The company would like to eventually use its expertise to untether VR from the PC altogether, offering fully-streamed experiences that require just a headset, the Rivvr, and a Wi-Fi connection. Those of us that use game streaming services may be more than a little skeptical, given their inherent latency.
The two Rivvr models are available for pre-order right now through the company's website. The head-mounted pack offers 3 hours of battery life and goes for $200, while the belt-mounted pack brings the time up to 5 hours and will set you back $250. Assuming the Rivvr lives up to Sixa's claims, it may be the cheapest, simplest wireless VR kit yet. Sixa expects the Rivvr to ship by the end of this spring.
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