Let's cut right to the chase. HTC and its partner TPCast want to chop all the cables connecting Vive headsets to host PCs. The companies announced an add-on to allow for tether-free operation of HTC Vive headsets at Alibaba's Shopping Festival in Shenzhen, China. In a phone interview with UploadVR, an HTC spokesman said the add-on would "greatly improve" the VR experiences with the Vive and made "no noticeable difference" with respect to latency. The included headset-mounted battery pack is said to provide enough power for about 90 minutes of use. A larger battery intended for for stowage in a shirt pocket will be offered in the future.
The tether-free kit should help provide room-scale VR experiences with no risk of tripping over headset cables, and could substantially increase the appeal and safety of using multiple headsets in a shared space. This enhancement can also help the Vive compete against the already-wireless VR experiences provided by mobile devices like Samsung's Gear VR and Google's DayDream VR platforms. The availability of wireless kits for high-end VR headsets likely also jeopardizes the emerging category of "VR backpack" computer systems like the MSI VR One we reported on earlier this morning.
HTC is accepting pre-orders for the TPCast Vive wireless kit (pre-release version) on its Chinese website. The device costs ¥1500, the equivalent of $220. According to UploadVR, individuals around the globe can pre-order the tether-free kit from China and pay for shipping, but buyers who provide a serial number from their Vive headset will receive preferential treatment in the order fulfillment queue.