It’s clear then that Immersive Robotics is moving on apace, with the team aiming to show off their technology at the forthcoming CES trade show in Las Vegas next month. In order to dig a little deeper, find IMR’s answers to some of our burning questions regarding their technology below.

Road to VR: It sounds as if the key USP is your compression. Is this entirely proprietary? If so, does this mean you’ve had to build custom compression acceleration for the (presumably) SoC used in the transmission and receiving devices?

IMR: Our compression / decompression is proprietary and built from the ground up specifically to tackle the problem of sending VR data between any supported devices.  Call it a VR standard if you will.  Our flagship product demonstrator is sending the VR video and USB data seamlessly between the PC and HMD wirelessly. Aside from the core algorithms and VR standard we have designed, the complete system is implemented on our real time electronics hardware.

imr-ian-photo-1We show a system end to end (compression, transmission and decompression) of less than 1 ms.  Other people currently coming to market that we’ve observed have EXTREMELY high latency which is not practical for VR and will make people sick.  It also has no future expand-ability.
A considerable amount of time and resources on our part has gone into actually creating this architecture that the algorithm can run on which is extremely fast and robust, we chose to do this completely independent of the computer, so it is not slowed down by any software layers it is all completely embedded.   There is no software or drivers to install.  This involves our own custom PCB hardware and all the supporting code that runs on the chips.  All of this is proprietary. (Provisional patent filed in the USA – United States Provisional Patent Application No. 62/351738 – “IMAGE COMPRESSION METHOD AND APPARATUS”)
Road to VR: You say the process of compression and transmission adds only 1ms latency – is that motion-to-photons? How did you go about measuring the latency?
IMR: The process of compression and decompression of a single frame at around 95% introduces latency only in the hundreds of microseconds end to end.   This is measured via clock cycles of our hardware, the time it takes to compress and subsequently decompress a bit of data.  This measurement is a measurement of what we are replacing – ie: the HDMI cable in the video’s case for example.  So the latency is added to the system latency where the HMDI and USB cable is usually connected.
Road to VR: What radio transmission technology / frequency are you using and how are you dealing with potential line of sight issues?
IMR: We are actually able to utilize a selection of off the shelf WiFi modules, we chose this path because of the strength in our compression we are able to get the data rate to an acceptable level to just take advantage of the latest existing WiFi tech, it brings the cost down and also opens up opportunities for us to partner with other companies that are already doing well in this area.
We can use anything from the 802.11 AC  and for even more bandwidth and less compression we can move up to the new AD standards.
Our antenna placement on our belt allows for an antenna to almost always be in view of a base station.   The line of sight issue is a little more pronounced with higher frequency and needs more care given to antenna placement. 

Current model being released at CES is using 802.11 AC
Road to VR: What is the maximum range for the system, between base station and receiver?
sharee-productIMR: This depends on the WiFi Frequency being used and the level of compression chosen, we can automatically scale the compression to the signal to noise ratio or the user can select a preset.

With the data-rates for this application, AC can be up to 50m theoretically and depends somewhat on environmental factors, it is certainly far enough for most play areas.  We are aware that our technology also allows people to develop much larger play areas and ad many more people to them, this is something we are partnering up with interested companies to test.

We are guaranteeing with our modules the ability for multiple users to play in the same large area.  VR Arcade companies we are in contact with have suggested an area of up to 30×30 would be fantastic, so we are testing to support this currently.
Road to VR: What expertise did you leverage, historical or through hiring, to allow you to engineer such an efficient codec?
IMR: The Compression algorithm was developed completely between Dr Daniel Fitzgerald and myself. Our backgrounds are Aerospace & Robotics, primarily we used to develop UAV/”Drone” technology, for high-end mission critical tasks. 
This involved a lot of wireless / camera, vision processing technology as well as safety and time critical hardware and software combinations, advanced autopilot development and rapid prototyping.  It worked out that we saw an evolving requirement for this sort of thing in the VR industry and had the prior skills and knowledge to apply to it and make it happen quickly.

We received investment for the company and hired skillful engineers to assist with things like PCB design, interfacing with HDMI, ethernet, wireless chips, etc and solving issues like creating the invisible wireless USB link.
Road to VR: You mention your compression skirts issues you found with pre-existing systems already out there, can you detail what those were specifically and what codecs you tried?
IMR: Existing and conventional video compression like H.264 and many others uses frame to frame compression (frame buffering) to achieve its level of compression, this is fine to view something on a screen. but for example if you used it for the HTC Vive you would end up with over 11ms of added latency (buffering a single frame), and as the screen resolution got bigger in the future you would end up with even more.

Without going into too many proprietary details, our system is able to work on such little latency because we figured out how to do a specialized style of compression without being constrained by any of this.
This delay issue described above is the key difference between our system and what is currently being pushed by other companies on the market.  We have thought of the real problem from the beginning rather than trying to push out a product fast that is unacceptable for VR.   If you are developing a wireless accessory for VR you can get away with maybe 2 or 3 ms MAX delay being introduced by the wireless portion of the system.
Road to VR: You say IMR is working towards productising this technology. What price range are you looking to shoot for – a very rough ballpark is obviously fine here?
IMR: We are targeting business customers who can roll this out to consumers for applications such as VR arcades, theme parks, training etc.   Price point would depend on quantities but roughly around $1200-1500.

For more information on Immersive Robotics you can head to their website, twitter or Facebook page.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • Get Schwifty!

    Really glad to hear wireless un-tethering is a priority out there and taken seriously. The feel of even just the Rift wiring alone is distracting to the experience… not to mention any wiring is a potential safety hazard at your feet. A 30mx30m area is pretty damn nice too if they can make it!.

  • J.C.

    Very excited about wireless tech, although recent experiences have made it clear that the tether DOES have a use, but only if configured in a certain way. Mine is suspended from the ceiling, coming down a bit behind the center of the play area. This has it drop down behind the user, never coming down to their feet. When they get near the edges of the play area, the cord puts enough tension on them that they’re reminded about the play space limits. In games where you turn around a lot, it’s still a problem, but the benefit to NEW players is pretty obvious.

    “People can use the chaperone/whateverOculusIsCallingTheirChaperone!” Ok sure. Put a 9 year old kid in there and tell them to stay inside the bounds, then put them in tilt brush. They won’t give a partial shit about the bounds, they’re too busy running around making swirls for 5 minutes while I dance around them keeping the cord from spinning them up. When they get near the edges, though, the cord tugs JUST enough that they turn another direction.

    How do I know it’s the cord doing this and not them using the chaperone? Because in the direction toward the “back” of the area, where there’s a bit less tension, they’ll bolt right past the boundary. There’s a good 3-4 foot “buffer” outside the chaperone, so they don’t immediately run into a snowblower or bicycle, but I’ve learned to put a bit more tension on the cord as they go that direction.

    Yes, this is a pretty rare scenario for day to day use. Wireless is the way to go, for sure. But the tether isn’t 100% detrimental to usage, especially for new players.

    • Get Schwifty!

      no way I’d let a nine year old use my HMD ;)

    • It’s not the best idea to give HMDs to kids.

  • Cool

  • Buddydudeguy

    “beams native resolution 2160 x 1200 images @90Hz to the target VR headset, currently an HTC Vive” ???? Why Vive only.

    • David

      Because the rift isn’t as versatile.

      • Buddydudeguy

        Bull. It does everything your Vive does within a smaller tracked area. Most people don’t even utilize the Vives potentially larger area.
        I play room scale games w/ Touch in a 10×10 area with out any issue.

        • Renato Wisocki Jr

          Bull; Vive rocks oculus is shit

          • Buddydudeguy

            You’re talking naive hyperbole smack and it’s kind of pathetic.

        • J.C.

          That’s not what he meant. The Vive is far easier to make third party hardware for, as Valve is heavily encouraging it. I don’t recall having seen one single piece of third party electronic hardware being announced for the Rift. For preliminary testing, the Vive just makes more sense for developers. It’s entirely likely that Oculus is working on a wireless system of their own, and/or that wireless systems will work WITH the Rift just fine.

          I know there’s a lot of fanboying on this forum, but I don’t think David was going that route with his comment.

          • Guygasm

            This solution is entirely separate from the main VR system. Is there anything, other than having to get a dongle to interface with Rift’s connector, that makes the Vive easier to develop for in this case?

          • Buddydudeguy

            Explain why it’s “easier to make third party hardware for”. You’re just making stuff up.

          • J.C.

            Rift is just as easy to develop third party stuff for? Please show me ONE third party device being made for the Rift.

          • Buddydudeguy

            Stop being dense. Just because HTC is getting contracts doesn’t mean the Rift is ” harder to develop for”. You’re reaching and it’s really sad. Why do you feel the need to do this? The two headsets are very similar except the Rift has built in audio and the sensors are tethered to the PC.

          • J.C.

            I’m not the one overreacting here. The article states that the headset currently being used for testing is a Vive, and you lose your shit. I have no doubt it’ll work with the Rift, unless Oculus goes out of their way again to block third party hardware.

            HTC isn’t getting contracts for hardware, who’s making shit up now? Third party hardware is using patents that Valve owns, and allows people to use royalty-free. You’re trying oh so hard to make it seem as if the Rift is getting the short end of the stick here when in reality, Oculus is HELLBENT on being an exclusive system. They clearly don’t want third party hardware, and refuse to support any hardware other than the stuff they sell.

            Also, both headsets have built in audio. One comes with headphones, one comes with earbuds.

          • Buddydudeguy

            Stop playing semantics. I meant the audio cable has to go from HMD to PC. On the Rift it’s through USB.

            And to my knowledge TPCast is not owned by Vive.
            “Hellbent on exclusives” you don’t even know what you’re talking about. Fan boy muted, thank you, come again.

          • J.C.

            So you’re saying the Oculus Store doesn’t pay for exclusives? You’re saying you’ve seen third party hardware announced for the Oculus system? I’ve asked it three times now and you run away from it every time, bitch about something else and then call me a fanboy. Oh, and then you put me on ignore so you don’t have to defend your completely false stance.

          • veritas

            > “Stop playing semantics. I meant the audio cable has to go from HMD to PC. On the Rift it’s through USB.”

            Vive has an audio port on its HMD. The audio signal for Vive is also coming through USB just like Rift, except that Rift doesn’t have a audio port on its HMD. So if you don’t want to use its built-in headphone then you have to either use wireless headphone or have headphone via an audio cable from PC.

            BTW, both of USB audio chips on Vive and Rift are made by the same Taiwanese company, just a slightly different models.

            > “And to my knowledge TPCast is not owned by Vive.”

            Vive doesn’t own any product or company. I don’t think HTC has spin off Vive into a separate company yet, so HTC still owns Vive.

            HTC has partially invested in TPCast through its Accelerator X program.

            > “you don’t even know what you’re talking about. Fan boy muted, thank you, come again.”

            You should really get your facts straight; otherwise you really sounded like a fan boy.

          • Buddydudeguy

            My facts are straight. Muted! No more notifications of morons please.

    • yag

      Probably because they think Oculus is already working on it.

      • David Herrington

        See above post

        • Buddydudeguy

          Ah, you mean your nonsense post that’s not even correct.

    • David Herrington

      Rift currently isn’t pushing room scale, but is mainly sit/stand. There is not as much need to go wireless if you aren’t moving around the room.

      • Buddydudeguy

        Don’t be dense. I have a 3mx3m area for Rift+ Touch with three sensors and it works great. I play Steam VR ( “Vive”) games daily. What you’re saying is misinfo nonsense. You would have been sort of right before Touch was released. I mean, where do you even come up with this shit? Well I’m off to go play Arizona Sunshine and Call of the Starseed…on my Rift, which “isn’t pushing room scale”. Dumb@ss.

        • David Herrington

          Oh, your fanboy-ism is noted. Insults are the crutch of the incorrect and weak minded.

          1. Name one, JUST ONE, solely room-scale Oculus Home title, go ahead I’m waiting…

          2. Rift still only provides 1 camera with its HMD. Buy Touch and you get one more. But to get FULL ROOM SCALE (3×3 meters…), you have to buy 1 MORE camera separately.

          Is “room scale” possible with the Rift? Absolutely. But that wasn’t my comment. What I said was that Oculus was not PUSHING room scale. As in, their hardware is capable of it but they do not wish to pursue it. Oculus wants you to use Rift seated with an Xbox controller, or standing 180° (aka not turning around) configuration with Touch. IF Oculus were to push room scale, they should provide 3 cameras with EVERY RIFT SOLD.

          Why would someone like IMR develop wireless for Oculus when only a niche group like you have access to room scale, when 100% of Vive users have access to room scale and would greatly benefit from it.

          But that’s ok, keep using room scale on your Rift with games you purchased from Steam (which Oculus doesn’t want you to do).

          • Buddydudeguy

            Wow, nice wall of text. “my” fanboy-ism! It’s painfully obvious you don’t own a Rift and are jumping at the opportunity to hate and sling misinfo.
            They don’t need to “push” room scale. Want room scale? Buy a third sensor, it’s that easy. I can see you think you’re awful clever though with your long winded rebuttal. Sorry, but your thoughts on this are really silly.

          • David Herrington

            I’m sorry that trying to read is so painful for you. I’ll keep this simple then.

            Name one solely room scale game on Oculus Home…

            Still waiting….

          • Buddydudeguy

            You still squawking, fanboy? I’ll do us both a favor and mute you so I don’t get anymore notifications. You got issues lol

          • David Herrington

            Yeah, that’s right. Walk away, because you obviously have nothing to contribute to this discussion. As I have said before, Oculus is not pushing room-scale.

  • Gerald Terveen

    Very cool and glad to read that 4k screens won’t tie us back up. Sad to read they are not going for the much bigger consumer market …

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Hmmm.. To be honest I have a feeling this is a high marketing talk, as running 120hz dual 4K over wifi without any real delay seems more like a fantasy or the compression is so high it’s like lowres..

    • Guygasm

      They do not claim to do dual 4K@120Hz over Wi-Fi, only (presumably dual) 2160×1200@90Hz (802.11ac Wi-Fi 5Ghz). They claim to scale to 4K@120Hz, but using 60Ghz WiGig

    • Daniel Fitzgerald

      Hi guys, Dr Daniel Fitzgerald, CEO of Immersive Robotics here. Andrew, thanks for the comments, however this is not marketing hype at all. Some clarifications: our current real time electronics run 2xHD, 90 frames per second. There is no noticeable lag (our compression/decompression total is less than 1 ms latency). The talk about 4K and 120 fps is to do with the fact that our algorithm is scalable to any resolution moving forward due to it’s pipeline (in terms of the data streaming through) and parallel design on chip as far as algorithm processing.
      As soon as there are screens and input VR video available at that resolution we can do it.
      We don’t do any frame to frame comparisons, which H264 does which immediately adds 2 or 3 frames (at least) of latency (approx. 22-33 ms).
      Please read more at my other posts below, but we are definitely the real deal – see our website also for other pics, etc of our actual electronics and of course can see us at CES in January.


    • OgreTactics

      It’s simply you being ignorant of the existing software and hardware technology.

  • Ian Shook

    I hope in the future there’s an app that adds the cord back in, for old time’s sake.

  • VRgameDevGirl

    Sounds awesome! Can’t wait! And VIVE and OCULUS are both fantastic. I have both. Rift is better when it comes to comfort. VIVE has better FOV IMHO. Rift has a sharper display IMO. VIVE is better for room scale. RIFT has better controllers. But I love them both. I played Arizona Sunshine Co-op with my husband. I was on vive, he on rift. It was amazing!!!!

  • evo

    that’s one fine ass! hope to see that in 4k per eye VR

  • CoffeeBuzz

    I wonder if that price point will stand ? I would not pay 800 for an HMD then 1200 on wireless attachment. When this comes out and is tested/verified, and if the price is significantly lower. then Im getting an HMD. Had the vive and sold it because of cable distraction. Most likely though if the price stays in the 1000+ range, ill wait for gen two headsets that may have something similar built in.

  • Daniel Fitzgerald

    Thanks to the roadtoVR guys for this article on our technology. We are very excited to be finally releasing our VR compression technology which we hope we can help formulate the new VR standard for transmitting VR data. We have been working on this technology since early 2015 and created a new video standard from the ground up. We also developed electronics that run our algorithms with combined latency for both compress and decompress combined of less than 1ms.

    This is unlike other groups recently trying to release solution that rely on underlying chips/tech that use H264 (or similar) type compression. As described in my post below, you get caught with motion artefacts, banding and other compression artefacts, but most importantly the latency is the problem. As soon as you start buffering frames for frame to frame compression latency is increased and you chipset is increased in terms of memory.

    The problems above we have solved by considering the VR problem since the beginning and we are very proud to be releasing this technology formally at CES. I want to be clear, we are not a newcomer to this game, and had wireless solutions for earlier VR dev headsets and the like from 2015. We knew the issues visually with the earlier HMDs and chose CES 2017 as the perfect time to show how great VR has now become.

    Please feel free to respond with questions here or contact us personally through our website.

  • OgreTactics

    At least some people are doing their job and working on what should have been implemented from the get-go in consumer HMDs.

    But I guess 2017 being the year of release of Wifi 811.2ad standard and the AV1 codec, these kind of solutions will be more streamlined than ever. There is absolutely no excuse for VR tethering anymore, this is a conceptual non-sense.

  • Ashwini

    Very nice and Informative article, 4k Display and virtual retinal display both has great scope in coming years because of future scope of VR and AR have in depth information @ for 4k Display:
    for virtual retinal display:

  • David Herrington

    While this sounds great, that price tag will destroy it.

    If they are producing a similar wireless option as TPCAST and others, they need to be competitive if they are going to stay in the wireless race. The ability to capture multiple players in the same space is nice… but very niche.

    • Joseph Simons

      It is not a similar wireless option to TPCAST.Its completely different. IMR has built a new VR compression technology from the ground up for the VR community. They are supporting full frame rate 90 fps and 2xHD and scale-able to new higher resolutions (once newer HMDs are released). TPCAST does not do any of this to the same quality

  • Cynthia Bergin

    I think this is a great idea. Do you need any help with this project? I would love to know that.