Valve’s annual Steam Dev Days event is underway and news about how the company is investing in VR’s future is seeping out. One interesting development is that they’re reportedly investing in 60Ghz wireless video streaming specialists Nitero, with a view to bringing wireless VR to their virtual reality offerings.

There’s no one who could argue that the biggest drag with first generation consumer VR is the bundle of cables that goes with it. This is especially acute when attempting to become immersed in room-scale VR as championed by SteamVR’s first flagship VR system the HTC Vive.

Now, it seems that Valve are actively encouraging a solution to this issue as it’s emerged that the company is investing a “significant amount” in a company which has already demonstrated a wireless 60GHz, low latency video streaming solution that it was targeting at the VR hardware market. Nitero demonstrated a VR-centric version of their wireless video solution at this year’s CES to UploadVR and had since gone awfully quiet. Seems that, among other partners interested in the company, they’ve been deep in discussion with Valve to invest a “significant amount” in Nitero, according to the company’s Co-Founder Sven Mesecke, talking to UploadVR. According to them, early problems surrounding line-of-sight requirements for uninterrupted signal have “been solved” thanks to a “customized beam forming” approach.

steam-dev-dayts

There are a number of other companies racing to see who can produce wireless video streaming which can carry enough data at a low enough latency to delivery a nausea free, clear VR image too. Quark VR (from Intugame), who recently also recently announce they were working with Valve on “a wireless HTC Vive prototype”, and that “It should be ready for testing later this year.” The blog post with that announcement was dated late August, so either Valve is partnering with multiple solutions providers in a bid to reach a usable solution more quickly, or they switched their attentions exclusively to Nitero. Either one is pure speculation at this stage, for the moment at least, Quark VR has remained silent on the development.

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Serious Simulations Claim Their 'Zero Frame Latency' Tech Can Make VR Headsets Wireless

With Oculus demonstrating their inside out tracking solution at last week’s Oculus Connect, it seems clear that the VR industry recognises the need to cut the cords, and if these developments evolve at their current rate, we could all be immersed, entirely tether-free, sooner than we all thought.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: Oculus' Wireless 'Santa Cruz' Prototype Makes Standalone Room-scale Tracking a Reality

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  • jimrp

    Could this chip also be in the Nintendo NX. As rumors it will be a hybrid.

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    Valve’s approach for streaming gives the benefit to not loose the capabilty and quality of PC VR which is i big PRO compared to standalone which have a CON of loosing render quality.
    However one thing remains, they need to make a way for a battery powering the device.
    Looking forward to it.
    Hope it does not force us to buy the entire HMD again but rather an upgrade kit would do just fine.

    • J.C.

      This very much seems like an upgrade item, although that really depends on how much power it takes to run the current headset. The new sensors they’re giving Lighthouse hardware builders are supposedly incredibly more power-efficient, so the next Vive will likely require less power, or will run longer on the same battery.

      The downside is that this won’t all be head mounted, you’ll have a cord that runs maybe to your waist, where there will be a transmitter and battery. Not the most elegant solution, but maybe you don’t want a 60ghz transmission that close to your brain anyway.

      • RipVoid

        Or the weight of a battery.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Yeah, but you want a 60ghz transmission down by your hip… I’d rather they first see what the actual health implications are of such transmissions before even releasing the damn thing..

    • Get Schwifty!

      It seems like a logical step that with enough wireless bandwidth for video streaming it’s an inevitable direction to go in. Just imagine use of inside-out tracking feeding information back to place a viewer with rendering of the body into a scene and fed back wirelessly…. gonna be some time for all that but its definitely down the road for sure.

    • Maybe supersized wireless charging will come into play. Although not sure on the health aspects of that :D

    • DaKangaroo

      I’d be quite satisfied with a battery pack worn on the belt in order to keep the headset light. Or even putting the wireless receiver on the belt too for that matter, anything to keep the headset itself light, since it’s just a display. As long as you can walk around the room without thinking about the cable tethering you to the PC, and without worrying about how much battery life you have left, it’s all good.

  • jimrp

    I need to know when this will happen as i will only have enough money to buy one HMD.

    • Get Schwifty!

      You may be waiting a while… the industry is in the fast turning, rapidly changing phase and likely will be for a number of years till things settle in a bit. You might as well pick one and go with it. Be around 18 months before the next HMD designs get out there most likely.

    • Augure

      Either Google will implement something on the next GearVR (which given the pile of shit that Daydream is, is unlikely) or yeah…wait another 18 months.

  • J.C.

    So, their battery pack needs to have a smaller, short-charge battery in it. This way, when the battery is running low, you can swap the battery without the HMD shutting off. This avoids it crashing the program it’s running, as well as not having to probably reboot the PC after steam VR throws a hissy fit.
    Even better, the batteries should half a clip on them, and a very easy to align shape so a user can swap them “blind”, as they often WILL be.

  • RipVoid

    Wireless and eye tracking are the top two hardware items on my wish list.

    • ummm…

      not resolution, fidelity, whatever

      • RipVoid

        Eye tracking and foveated rendering should allow for an immediate jump in resolution.

        • Augure

          No it wouldn’t. The resolution is limited by the screen resolution, foveated rendering is just a way to render better/higher fidelity graphics in more efficient ways.

          Also that’s how the eye works, you inner focus zone is the equivalent of 4K resolution, the outer ring is about 1K and the rest is half that, so that makes it about 5,5K resolution per eyes (I don’t know how much it accounts for both eyes if you tabulate the two).

          We’re not even at 1K resolution per eyes, and that’s for the whole FOV, while foveated rending would either need a VERY high resolution screen that adapts to where you’re looking, or some sort of pixel screen that can compress and extend depending on where you look so that resolution density matches where you are looking at.

          • RipVoid

            I’m not suggesting that eye tracking and foveated rendering be added to current headsets. I’m suggesting it be a part of 2nd or 3rd gen units that include higher resolution screens to take advantage of it.

          • Augure

            I don’t think Foveated Rendering is a priority, in fact I don’t think it’s in the horizon of 2nd or 3rd generation, like Virtual Glasses, they’re pretty far of, even if eye tracking could be implemented soon.

          • VRgameDevGirl

            You said were “not even at 1k per eye?” HTC VIVE = 2160×1200 (1080×1200 per eye) just an FYI. what VR headset do you have??

          • Augure

            Now you’re right, that’s a mix-up

    • David Mulder

      Wireless and face tracking are the the two hardware items on my wish list, the idea of foveated rendering seems quite overrated in my humble opinion. But then again, glad if I am wrong :D . But face tracking… that would change VR itself so much, allowing social interactions of an entirely new kind.

  • Lots of videos on SteamDevDays of the new controller. Mac support coming too. https://twitter.com/hashtag/SteamDevDays?src=hash

  • DougP

    Re: Add-on vs upgrade headset
    I hope that when wireless comes out, if it’s before gen2 Vive, that they make it compatible with both.
    I can imagine the battery life being *less* with current Vive due to sensors being less power efficient, but the display, I’d imagine, is the largest power draw.

    Not being familiar with the power draw of display & sensors combined + the transmitter/receiver that’ll be on-body … just guessing here… I still think that a very moderate sized battery might do the trick for many hours of play.

    “Modular” & Compatible
    Hope that they stick with keeping things modular & compatible across revisions. Buying the wireless pack…and then the new controllers, would be much less painless when it’s an item at a time. Then sell-off / hand-me-down previous components, eventually HMD as time goes on. Whereby the original stuff is still well supported & *compatible* w/new devices. Makes the original equip more valuable & gives longevity.

  • I’m enjoying PSVR right now, and I never thought the GearVR was junk. Machine crushing polygon counts don’t automatically make good games. I can’t help thinking this whole discussion in wireless video transmission might might be a short-term solution for a problem that’ll go away on it’s own eventually. It’s all heading towards self-tracking/hand-tracking mobile VR. Everything on your head, all self contained.

    This sort of tech will likely be a stop-gap measure. That gap might last 5 or so years, so there’s a good market for it, but it’s not “The Future”. It’s more like “Near Future” or “Temporary Future”.

    That said, I might buy it. 2 or 3 years of use isn’t bad.

  • Augure

    “There’s no one who could argue that the biggest drag with first generation consumer VR is the bundle of cables that goes with it”

    No shit. One the 3 -minimum- things Virtual Headsets need to be actual finite Virtual Headsets is not just untethering but wireless plugging.

    By that I mean that Virtual Headset were never meant to be computing or proprietary platform devices for now, it’ll won’t be as efficient and powerfull as a dedicated console or PC and versatile or transportable as mobile devices.

    Virtual Headsets are just meant to be new visual interface devices, they’re here to replace screens, so there’s not one compelling VH ready yet, either because they’re obnoxiously cabled to one box or because they super limited by one mobile device, and the Intel Alloy or the new Oculus wireless prototypes are stupid as fuck.

    People want to use AND switch VH from one device to the other to use it as the new visual interface it is, which is why one of the first app that emerge out of Oculus were Vorpx or Virtual Desktop to actually extends it’s capabilities to the full machine, or Riftcat on GearVR to OF COURSE try to wireless stream from other machines than the smartphone.

  • Aragon

    Comfort level is in my opinion the most important issue. Sony already found a better solution for this with Playstation VR than both PC Headsets. Next should be better resolution, 4K resolution with RGB Pixels not Pentile. Even if VR games are not able to use it fully, it would be useful for a Virtual cinema mode which would allow you to have Full HD resolution on your virtual cinema screen, and therefore it would be able to replace your television. And after that they could get rid of cables. But the next generation Vive should have all of this at once :)