Today and Tomorrow’s Specs

DisplayLink Executive Chairman Graham O’Keeffe, whom I had a chance to speak with at E3, stressed the importance of being able to deal with drops in bandwidth without interrupting the VR experience.

“When it comes to wireless VR, it would be easy if you only had to consider the ‘average’ bandwidth of a wireless link, but the actual instantaneous bandwidth is constantly changing and occasionally drops off suddenly. You need to be able to handle those troughs without interrupting the experience, and we’ve worked to tune our compression for that,” O’Keefe told me.

He also said that the DisplayLink XR latency is in the “single digits,” but emphasized the difficulty of getting a precise measurement. The official website for the solution reads, “Typically sub frame of 3-5 ms in a normal radio environment such as a domestic living room, meeting room, or conference booth.”

DisplayLink XR compression, says O’Keeffe, can handle up to 24 Gbps of video throughput. That’s enough to handle today’s headsets like the Vive at 2,160 x 1,200 and 90Hz, while still providing enough overhead for resolutions of 3,840 x 2,160 for next-gen headsets, he says.

When it comes to battery life, the company initially quoted two hours of runtime for the head-mounted battery at the announcement of the device, though on the show floor at E3 they’ve apparently been seeing anywhere between three and five hours of continuous play. Whether they keep that current life, or reduce the size of the battery, to maintain the initial two hour runtime spec while reducing the weight of the unit, remains to be seen. For extended play sessions, larger batteries could easily be belt-mounted.

Photo by Road to VR

Although the DisplayLink XR reference device is something that you can see and use today, its final form will ultimately be up to whoever decides to license the technology. The reference device’s true purpose is to demonstrate the wireless VR tech to potential customers—like Oculus or HTC, for instance—who might want to build the tech directly into future headsets, or do something else with it like design their own version of a wireless VR adapter and launch it into the market as an add-on for contemporary headsets.

7 Companies Aiming to Cut the Cord on High-end VR Headsets

What that looks like—and perhaps more importantly, when—is unclear. What is clear, however, is that the market wants the quality of tethered VR but without the cable, and companies like DisplayLink are rising to the challenge.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Me

    Hey, my Vive doesn’t look like a Frankenstein wet dream enough , let’s strap a gigantic mouse on top of it. Seriously guys, I appreciate the effort but come on, do we really need to look like jerks more than we already are ? Hopefully people licensing this tech will come up with a better design.

    Tough times for VR enthousiasts with self-esteem…

    • Sch@dows

      Sure I wouldn’t be against a better design, but frankly it doesn’t matter to me what I look like in VR as long as it is confortable and efficient.

    • cirby

      When I’m wearing my Vive, I can’t really see how it looks.

      If you’re worried about your appearance while using one, I’d suggest you try not to think about how you look while flailing your hands at invisible monsters.

    • NooYawker

      What? Do you walk around outside your home with your vive? Do you worry about what you look like in the privacy of your own home?

      • Me

        Well, I have a wife, and… well if you also have one you know what I’m talking about.

        • Divorce her, get better VR gear, your life will improve. lol

        • NooYawker

          My wife knew what she was getting into when she married a geek. I mean, do you think you DON’T already look stupid wearing a Vive, holding two wands and swinging them around while you’re playing?
          Yea this wifi peripheral is the tipping point between looking normal and jerk.

          • johngrimoldy

            I was thinking the same thing: you already look like an asshat when you’re using a Vive (and I’m okay with that). Adding this peripheral is not going to be what keeps you from being easily mistaken for Jon Hamm.

          • NooYawker

            Jon Hamm was a nice touch.

        • Mei Ling

          If your wife is worried about how you look when you put on this contraption then I’m sorry to say but your wife is the problem.

          • towblerone


        • Get Schwifty!

          Yep I certainly do ;)

    • Tyler Soward

      Glad my self-esteem went out the window a long time ago

    • badymojoy

      I’m not sure self-esteem is the term you’re looking for here. Perhaps, you mean, self-consciousness. Dictionary def. of self-conscious: “feeling undue awareness of oneself, one’s appearance, or one’s actions.”

  • Robbie DeRoo

    I cannot wait for wireless. A minimum of 4 hours battery life would have me on-board.

  • Doctor Bambi

    Understanding that it’s very early days for this tech, and maybe it’s already the case with these systems, but I would think it would make more sense to have a generic 60GHz router that’s also capable of spitting out 5Ghz and 2.5Ghz frequencies for my lesser devices. This way the router price is more easily justified as it can replace my current router.

    This would also take the pressure off of HTC and Oculus to build and charge for the entire wireless infrastructure and just simply focus on a wireless transceiver that’s capable of tapping into those 60GHz routers.

  • I’m really looking forward to all of this, but whomever builds off their reference model better plan for people swapping out batteries often.

    The idea of the battery on the player’s belt seems a bit janky and likely to tangle. I don’t like wired headphones because they often get yanked out of my ears when I move. I can’t imagine yanking out a wire on a HMD being any less uncomfortable.

    • crychlyd

      Tangle? For the people whose torsos spin 360 degrees?

    • RFC_VR

      There are great reference designs for harness/battery belt in other fields like climbing, military, sports hydration backpacks, etc. Its not hard to engineer a solution that would make the weight and bulk of the battery dynamic (i.e. moving with your body) by a form fitting design you would barely notice – similar to Molle military “webbing”.

      The military now carry a surprising amount of Tech including batteries.

      What you want to avoid is a static design where the battery is constantly felt banging against the body as you move – immersion breaking just like the tether it deigned to replace!

      Headphones on PC VR can be problematic as ideally you want a really short audio lead i.e. 0.25M-0.5M for the Vive, I had great success with upper end Sennheiser which have removable leads allowing aftermarket short leads. When the headphones are set up right, there should be no movement or anything getting pulled.

  • Lucidfeuer

    I won’t put this on my head, nor would I a fridge or a radiator, but hey if it brings better performance than other existing solution like TPCast…does it even?

  • Ghosty

    Yeah it needs to get way smaller for second Gen… Thus is great proof of concept but we need miniturization!

    • towblerone

      This is first-gen wireless tech, man. It will get there.

    • morfaine

      You can’t miniaturise the battery that’s needed to power the whole headset.

  • Tailgun

    “compresses the raw VR video feed using the company’s proprietary compression tech”

    Looks like Pied Piper is getting into VR, after all.

  • AndyP

    First Gen wireless already looking arse kicking. Good job (although always room for improvement).

  • Seems a nice product. The problem is that adding another box along the two lighthouse station is surely not great for user-friendliness. Maybe this integrated into Vive2 would be better

  • Kingsley Mok

    How long does the battery last? Is there an option to swap out the battery for continuous play? I doubt the battery will last more than 3 hours. Spare batteries on standby for swaps would be ideal when playing VR on hours end.