Report: TPCast wireless kit for Vive headset shows promise

The magic of VR is its ability to transport us to new worlds and make us feel like we're really there. Any hitches to the VR experience, be it cords, lag, or a mischevious onlooker, can take us right out of the experience. It stands to reason, then, that all three of the major VR headsets are wired because they have to be. UploadVR had a chance to look at TPCast's wireless Vive kit, built in collaboration with HTC, and came away impressed. According to the site, wireless VR seems to really work.

The TPCast transmitter attaches to the top of the headset. Its battery comes in two sizes, mounted in different spots: the two-hour model goes at the back of the headset, and the beefier five-hour model can go in your back pocket. To communicate with your PC, the TPCast uses a transmitter with a line-of-sight connection.

The idea of a line-of-sight connection is a bit unnerving, but the folks at UploadVR did everything they could to break that line of sight, up to and including doing handstands and cartwheels. UploadVR's Az Balabanian writes that he's spent hundreds of hours using Vive headsets, and that the TPCast hardware didn't introduce any delay that he could detect. The reported latency was apparently well under the often-quoted 20-ms benchmark required for comfortable VR, too.

If you like a clean play space, though, the gear may be a bit of a turnoff. While the hardware seen above isn't terribly obtrusive, the video transmitter needs to sit above the play space the same way the Lighthouses do, so it's yet another black box on a pole to place, aim, and then look at.

The model that the UploadVR's reporters played with was a prototype using 3D-printed parts and even some duct tape, but the results they're reporting are encouraging. It doesn't seem like a far out idea that wireless capabilities could be a stock feature on VR headsets a couple years from now.

The TPCast device is set to release in China in the first quarter of 2017, with a US launch set for "sometime next year." An official US price is unavailable, but previous estimates from Tpcast pointed to somewhere north of $200.

Comments closed
    • JosiahBradley
    • 3 years ago

    This comment section is as dead as wireless VR currently is.

    • YukaKun
    • 3 years ago

    They should move some weight to the hip or arms… Plus all that electrical and magnetic waves around my brain make me less than comfortable. I take cables over high frequency mid-energy waves cruising through my brain any day.

    Cheers!

      • Duct Tape Dude
      • 3 years ago

      High frequency = cannot penetrate your brain. That’s why 60Ghz+ is line of sight only.

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      Just put a tinfoil hat on.

      • Namarrgon
      • 3 years ago

      60 GHz isn’t nearly high enough frequency to be a problem. It’s not even infra-red (everything below ultraviolet is non-ionising), so it cannot cause chemical changes, only warming. This is less dangerous than a torch beam.

        • YukaKun
        • 3 years ago

        And what about energy?

        My point of comparison is 2.4GHz in WiFi vs 2.4Ghz used by microwaves.

        Cheers!

    • wingless
    • 3 years ago

    I hope the battery pack is comfortable to wear and can provide 2 to 3 hours of game play. That would be magical.

    • the
    • 3 years ago

    Sound like 60 Ghz WiDi to me. It has enough bandwidth to do it with display stream compression with a back of the envelope calculation. This would also explain the low latency as it is better than H.264 and H.265 solutions.

      • meerkt
      • 3 years ago

      What better video codecs are there?

        • Joerdgs
        • 3 years ago

        They’re not necessarily ‘better’. They’re just simpler. H.264 takes a lot of computing power and thus additional latency to encode. A simpler codec uses less compression, but more bandwidth as a result. An uncompressed video stream would be very fast, even over Wifi, but would require a lot of bandwidth which is often the limiting factor with wireless solutions.

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