TPCAST announced last month plans for an Oculus Rift version of their wireless module. This week at the SVVR offices in Silicon Valley, the company showed off a functional version of the module for the first time. The unit is said to be available by year’s end, and will have the same or similar $300 price as the HTC Vive module.

Image courtesy TPCast

At the SVVR Meetup #46 on Tuesday, TPCast showed the first public demo of their wireless Oculus Rift module. The system eliminates the Rift’s tether by attaching a transmitter to the wearer’s head which sends the headset’s USB and HDMI data over a 60GHz connection to a receiver which connects to the host computer. The system is powered by a belt-worn battery which is said to last several hours.

VR industry insider Jon Oakes was present at the Meetup shared his experience of trying the demo with Road to VR.

The demo they showed was Google Earth VR, and performance seemed perfectly acceptable. I did not notice any significant frame drops even when moving my head back and forth rapidly. I was not able to fully test the range limits given our space constraints but it definitely performed well in standard Vive room-scale range. It was comfortable although it’s still an extra box on top of your head and it made adjusting the head strap a bit challenging. I don’t think this would be a problem for personal use but in an environment like an arcade some thought would have to be given to quickly adjusting the strap lengths for varying head sizes.

Weight wasn’t too much of an issue since most of the weight was on the battery which hangs from your belt/pants. I’m not sure what they would do if someone were not wearing pants (such as someone wearing a dress) but for an arcade environment a simple nylon belt should hold it fine.

It definitely felt good to not have to worry about wires. I realized I was subconsciously managing my movement after spending a lot of time in VR navigating the cables we all have currently, but after a few minutes I was able to relax more and feel a bit more connected to the virtual environment because of not having the ‘anchor’ of the VR headset cable to the real world. A properly configured chaperone system is really important however because without wires you do lose some sense of where you are in relation to your play space.

Oakes further said that performance during his time with the unit felt just like he’s used to in a typical wired scenario. From my own experience testing the Vive version of the TPCast wireless module at several different events, performance was hit or miss from one event to the next, but it seemed that in situations where the module was set up optimally and in an ideal environment, the system is capable of providing a consistent wireless experience without impacting visual performance.

image courtesy TPCAST

At the event, Udi Yuhjtman, TPCast’s GM of North America, said that the Rift version of the module would be priced at or near the same $300 for the Vive version—a price point which is more appealing to VR arcades than home users, but which could still interest power users, especially with the cost of these headsets plummeting in the last 12 months. Due to differences in cabling, the company says the two modules are not interchangeable.

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Yuhjtman said that FCC certifications, which were blamed for missed deadlines for the launch of the Vive version in the US, won’t need to be redone since the two modules are so similar. The company says that the Rift version of the headset is in production now and is due out by the end of the year, presumably alongside the Vive version.

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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."
  • A year late and costs more than half the headset. I think it would have been better as a complete belt system so it would have worked with any gen 1 headset and not added weight to your head,

    • dk

      there is a directional antenna u need to put at the level of a lighthouse……if the video receiver was on your waist instead of your head ….u will get pretty bad signal while turning around when your body is between the antenna and the receiver………..won’t cut out completely but pretty bad signal ….and being on the top of your head u don’t feel the weight that much

    • JesperL

      There is no added weight to the headset. I have Tpcast for Vive, you feel nothing different on the headset.
      However, TPcast can easily give you other headaches – its a pain to set up, and the software is crap. I had an incident yesterday where i was in a game, and the pc just shut down. When I got it up again, the Tpcast software did not respond at all, not even on re-install. Took me 30 min. to discover that steamVR + the game was also gone from my system and had to be reinstalled..
      TPcast is great when it works – no doubt there! – But it comes like a beta product, with a bunch of things that can go wrong.

      • No added weight to your head? I am surprised at that but as you have one will take your word for it that you “feel” no added weight. I wonder if this is the one Pimax will use?

      • RFC_VR

        Have you tired “OpenTPcast” software yet? Apparently makes a massive difference compared to stock software.

  • JesperL

    Be warned. I can recommend TPCast if you have a lot of patience.
    Setup is a pain, and it feels like a beta release.
    When it works, its great – but I had several issues, that took patience and some research to do.
    Just the fact that the software is crap, and it takes other enthiusiast users to fix better software is a joke.
    Also its too late and too expensive. But If you dont care (like me) and just need that wireless VR, then go for it.

    • Marc

      I’d be worried about them not hitting FCC standards in their first shot….

      • dk

        why it’s already on the market for the vive

        • Callie

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    • Very interesting… thanks for your review

  • ender707

    Does the rift version transmit mic audio?

    • Jean-Sebastien Perron

      Probably not, just brain cancer.

      • Caven

        As opposed to the cancer-free transmitter that’s already built into the Oculus Rift headset to communicate with the Touch controllers?

      • Tony Murchison

        If 60GHz radiation gives you cancer, I’d start being terrified of the 600THz coming from your lamps.

      • JesperL

        You should probably get rid of your phone, lamps, VR headset, and much more :D Do you use wireless headset? The signal for the TPcast is blocked by a piece of paper, your skin is tougher than that. My wireless headset for gaming penetrates 2 concrete walls + 10 meters when I go to the kitchen lol. I am not saying you are wrong, and it adds to the risk. But the risk increase is so low its like nothing.

        • Luke

          I’m scared imho for CV2 they should isolate the bottom part that “see” the skull and place it as far as possible (not in contact).

          • Caven

            They do isolate the 60GHz transmitter. It mounts on the wall, not your head. A 60GHz transmitter attached to the headset would be useless, because the video stream needs to be transmitted from the PC, not the headset.

            If they ever did come up with some reason to transmit high-bandwidth data from the headset, they’d likely want to put a shield (or rather a reflector) at the base of the radio, as any RF energy broadcast into the skull is wasted. Reflecting the signal away from the skull and into the room where it can be detected by the receiver makes much more efficient use of the energy.

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    Brain cancer guaranteed.

  • Interesting review