TPCAST, makers of a 60GHz wireless VR add-on for the HTC Vive, have announced a Business Edition version of the device which is said to allow up to six of the units to work in one local space without interference.

Tpcast—which is part of HTC’s Vive X accelerator program—has begun shipping what they’re calling the consumer edition of their wireless product in China, which aims to eliminate the cord that connects from the Vive headset to the PC. Now the company is introducing a different version, the Tpcast BE, focused on businesses who want to have multiple wireless VR players in the same local area.

See Also: 5 Companies Aiming to Cut the Cord on High-end VR Headsets

According to the company, the Tpcast BE makes use of on-board channel-management to allow up to six VR users to play wirelessly within arms reach of each other, without interference. Unfortunately you still need one receiver and one transmitter per user (instead of a single transmitter like you’d expect with a home router) though the company says the BE version will be available in packages of four or six units, and with a two year warranty (an extra year over the Tpcast consumer version) the BE is clearly aimed at businesses like out-of-home VR arcades and others that want to use the Vive wirelessly in a commercial setting.

Photo by Road to VR

While it’s novel to be able to have multiple wireless VR players in the same local space tracked by one pair of SteamVR Tracking base stations, occlusion problems will become more prevalent. Of course, the Tpcast BE could also be used to enable wireless play on separate player ‘stalls’ that are right near each other, but each tracked with their own base stations.

Hands-on With TPCAST BE

Photo by Road to VR

I got to try the Tpcast BE at the Vive X office in San Francisco today where the company was showing up to four wireless Vives running simultaneously with the four corresponding transmitters mounted next to each other on the ceiling.

I slung the Tpcast BE belt around my waist (which holds the battery), and put on my headset. In front of me (in the real and virtual worlds) was another player also wearing the wireless system. Both headsets were sending and receiving information wirelessly to the transmitters on the ceiling which then to the computers on a nearby desk.

Ceiling-mounted Tpcast transmitters | Photo by Road to VR

The choice of VR app was table tennis in Virtual Sports, which is a great game to demo a wireless Vive with because you don’t have to worry about the headset’s cord getting in the way of your swings or your leaps to go after balls.

Despite very good image quality, in my time playing I saw occasional stuttering inside the headset that seemed to come in no particular pattern. This could have been caused by the PC I was connected to not being up to par in performance, but given that this was the Vive X office, this was probably one of the best places in the world to have confidence that the PC is meeting VR’s recommended specs.

And so my guess is that the stutter was due to the Tpcast wireless transmission, though it could have potentially been an issue with the SteamVR Tracking base stations; when I mentioned the stutter to Tpcast, they were indeed quick to blame the base stations and the room being “too bright,” though I can’t say I would have described the lighting as such. Without a more controlled setting, it’s tough to say exactly which part of the pipeline might have been at fault. I’m looking forward to giving the system a more thorough test in the future.

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Tpcast says the BE will be available later this year, though pricing has not been announced. As for the consumer Tpcast wireless kit for Vive which is priced at $250, the company says they have begun shipping in China and plan to bring the product to the US in Q3 this year (a delay from the previously stated Q2 worldwide availability). The present holdup, the company explained, is largely due to pending FCC approvals.

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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."
  • Strawb77

    presumably one would need a pc each for the users?

    also, i remember an article from waay back , written by the same ben lang iirc, where two users [i think they had a pc each tho`] ran their vives with just the two base stations.
    the vive can work reasonably well with just one base station. [i prefer the `lighthouses` moniker as it explains their use better.] the headset tracks the base stations and not the other way round?
    so you wouldn`t need a plethora of base stations, but say a couple more for potential blind-spots where the players get in each other`s shadows?

    the article doesn`t tell us how many base stations were in use for that session, or how many pcs, only referring to “the PC I was connected to”, and only how many tpcast transmitters “Unfortunately you still need one receiver and one transmitter per user ..”, well, yeah? obviously.

    come on ben- tell us do.

  • VRcentre

    Hi there, a little note on this setup, as we are a UK company who currently use wireless VR from TPcast for VR events in London. The business edition shown above isn’t yet available, and we are waiting on a definitive price for the 4 or 6 users version. In terms of how the setup works, it’s very similar to the single unit TPcast setups, just with everything multiplied. So in essence, for 4 players, you’ll need 4 Vive, 4 PC’s, 4 TPcasts, 4 overhead TPcast video transmitters, 4 TPcast routers (for tracking data between the 4 headsets and their respective PC’s), 2 lighthouse and at the minimum a space of 5m by 5m, with the Vive sync cable linking the two lighthouses, both on stands at least 2.5m high. In terms of TPcast’s compaint that the test room was “too bright” I’m afraid there is some truth to this statement. Whilst the TPcasts themselves can stutter on video transmission here and there (though nothing terrible), when a room is bathed in high levels of natural sunlight (big windows letting light in) this can sadly have an adverse effect on the sensors on the HMD and controllers. As far as we can work out, and through many events around the UK trying to bring VR to companies for exploration, we have come to believe that the IR levels found in natural sunlight, interfere with the beam nets that the lighthouses are sending out. In a nutshell, expose a Vive HMD to enough sunlight, and the sensors are muffled by the IR light and you will see tracking stutters and even ‘grey outs’ as the tracking drops below a minimum threshold level set by the system. We ran quite a few outdoor events throughout this summer, and ended up having to devise some crazy ways of blocking ambient light. Sad reality is that Vive’s (and Rift’s incidently) do prefer shaded rooms, or ideally, blacked out. Hope that all helps. Stephen, VR-Centre, London