Cloud compute specialists Scalable Graphics are to debut a new 1 pound wireless PC VR solution compatible with both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets at next weeks CES convention in Las Vegas.

As we stated in our recent CES VR retrospective, wireless VR looks set to be a big focus for next weeks show in Las Vegas. Now that consumer VR is here and filtering into people’s homes, the focus on making VR experiences better through incremental hardware upgrades, mods or peripherals will likely ramp up until next generation hardware arrives. For many, the biggest boost in the feeling of presence (now that both platforms have tracked motion controllers) would be to cut the distracting chord between the VR hardware and the PC powering it. For that, you need a wireless video compression and USB transmission system. To that end, companies like QuarkVR, Nitero, TPCast and most recently IMR are all working to being consumer (or prosumer) devices to market in 2017.

The latest to join the wireless VR race is Scalable Graphics, a firm whose focus up to now has been on GPU accelerated cloud compute systems. They’ve just announced KwikVR, a lightweight wireless compression and transmission system that will work with both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. What’s more, the firm is due to demonstrate the new hardware at CES next week.

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As with many of the solutions current in development (or in TPcast’s case, ready for sale), KwikVR’s solution provides a wearable receiver unit (in this case, belt mounted) which includes at an HDMI port and 2 USB ports. The idea is, you plug the cables that would ordinarily attach to your PC (or breakout box in the case of the Vive) into KwikVR’s equivalent ports. Compressed video is then transmitted to that unit then along to the headset over HDMI.

Input data from the headset is again sent wirelessly back to the host machine, and in the case of connected wireless controllers, bi-directionally. KwikVR apparently works over a common or garden 5Ghz WiFi (ac) network, which means its a tad more elegant (assuming it works of course) than TPcast’s solution which relies on WiGig 60Ghz transmitters and receivers shipped with the product. In theory at least, as with the recently unveiled IMR’s solution, KwikVR will work over your existing 5Ghz network hardware. However the company is saying the product will come complete with its own Wifi router (as well as the HDMI dongle for the back of your PC) – probably to ensure consistent results.

kwikvr-scalable-graphics-alt-coloredKwikVR is claiming 12ms additional latency working at both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive’s native 2160 x 1200 resolution (each headset packs 2 x 1080 x 1200 OLED panels), running at 90Hz. So the key here will be how much image quality will be sacrificed in the compression stage in order to sustain a demanding VR video stream. IMR demonstrated some impressive results (albeit with some artefacts) and a 95% compression rate in our recent coverage so it’ll be interesting to compare the systems.

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The whole package is powered by a 16100 mAh battery which supplies a claimed 4 hours of playtime between charges. A respectable figure.

How KwikVR stacks up against the rest of the solutions on their way to market is impossible to say right now. We’ll be endeavouring to try as many solutions at possible at CES next week to try to gauge the compromises and performance each presents. At any rate, it’s great to see so much competition in a field that just a couple of years ago would have seemed futuristic.

  • mellott124

    The 60GHz solution will be better. Detecated pipe with no interference from other 5GHz sources. Also, 60GHz has no issue with bandwidth for current HMDs. A 5GHz link requires compression and you’ll be more likely to notice artifacts. 60GHz will also have much lower latency. Try a Nyrius system from Amazon if you want to see what performance will be like on a single 5GHz 1080p channel. I would hold out for a solution like TPCast.

    • Bryan Ischo

      60 ghz requires line of sight and is much more susceptible to occlusion than 5 ghz. Who knows how these devices will operate in practice. We need to wait for actual reviews and comparisons before jumping to the kinds of conclusions that you seem to want to make before even trying either device.

      • mellott124

        These systems aren’t new and have been around for some time as single channel devices. I have experience with both 5GHz and 60GHz systems. The new thing with these systems is that they are effectively dual channel with USB. We’ll see when they come out but I’m betting on 60GHz unless the 5Ghz guys have found some new magic solution that the rest of the industry hasn’t figured out.

      • cirby

        Roomscale also requires line of sight. The most obvious solution is a multiple-antenna rig with what’s called a “diversity” system, swapping between receivers as necessary and keeping them synced with suitably fast hardware. One receive antenna on top of the headset, a couple more over the ears, and one transmit antenna on each side of the room, and you’re set. Use standard WiFi for the controls, and you’re set.

        • DougP

          Building into next gen Lighthouse might be an elegant solution.

      • jean thompson

        Well said!!! I agree.

    • I’d have to agree. I have alot of neighbors in my apartment building. I can’t imagine 5Ghz would work well.

  • Joan Villora Jofré

    Too slow. The others add less than 2 miliseconds of latency, they 12.
    What about Immersive Robotics and their wireless solution? It’s the same but adding just 1 milisecond of latency.

  • Nicholas

    12ms and compression? No thanks, will wait for the TPCast solution.

    • Krishna

      How does it effect? Human reaction time is 100ms. You still get 120fps or 90fps.

      • Nicholas

        12ms is over one frame of latency. For some people, that’s enough to induce nausea. And the compression is going to introduce artifacts, depending on how much they’re squeezing the data (which I suspect is a lot: the raw stream is over 5Gb/s, which is far in excess of what 5GHz wifi can achieve).

        • Krishna

          Thanks NIcholas for the reply. What is the maximum latency to be good for all? I am using a device with 5Gbps but can do only 1080p@60.

          • Nicholas

            Preferably less than 1 frame (at 90fps, that’s 11.1ms per frame). The TPCast device apparently only adds 2ms, although there might still be some compression involved – we’ll have to wait and see!

  • MrGreen72

    12ms is more than a full frame of added latency. That seems pretty significant. Any of the other upcoming wireless solutions promise better performance?

    • DougP

      TPCast, like 2ms.

  • Dave

    How is any of this better than a cord which makes the Rift very easy to use and accessible.

    Uhm I don’t get it. You have to put a belt on, attach a wireless transmitter device to the belt or your trouses and then have a cord running from the headset to this device. You’ll probably need another USB 3.x slot. You also have to replace the battery in the device every 4 hours. The picture quality is likely to be poorer due to the wireless transmission technology, have a higher lag and occulusion isn’t rulled out either. And then theres the cost…

    The cord seems a much more friendly solution in comparison and I would imagine many people by now have got used to it. This device won’t change a thing. You’ll have to have much better integration into new HMD’s for this to work, better bandwidth and better battery technology.

    • PianoMan

      I wouldn’t worry too much as the Rift isn’t native room scale anyway. This is probably the reason they decided to show the Vive using it.

      • Dave

        Thanks PianoMan. You’re right, with the Vive it makes more sense especially if the cord is the limiting factor to using the roomscale space, but how many people does this affect really, and on top of that I find the whole process a little messy.

        It’s good companies are pushing the technology forward but I really think wireless HMD’s needs to be developed from the ground up for this to be consumer friendly.