Small form factor PC specialist Zotac are about to enter the virtual reality hardware race with a nifty solution to your tethered, cable-lugging room-scale VR woes; A portable PC that can be strapped to your back.
Consumer virtual reality is finally here, but it’s wired. This is bad enough for a predominately seated experience that the Oculus Rift offers, but to get the most from its room-scale friendly, SteamVR powered rival the HTC Vive, you need to lug around the headset along with the weighty, presence sapping cables too.
Zotac, a company famous for designing and manufacturing small form factor PC systems, is about to step into the VR hardware fray with a solution to help cut the VR cord. How does it plan to do this? Well, the solution is both comparatively low-tech and at once elegant; they’re strapping the PC to your back.
Wearable PC hardware has of course been around for some time and we’ve covered more than one VR system which adopted the PC-in-a-rucksack approach (sometimes referred to as a ‘backtop’). The original Project Holodeck team (now Survios) used backtops for their early prototypes and the forthcoming virtual reality entertainment theme park The Void requires players to haul powerful rendering hardware on their backs.
Neither of those examples of course are focused on consumer VR, so Zotac is looking to fill what it sees as a gap in the market by producing it’s own, mini PC with a custom, rucksack style case to put it in.
No details on either the PC components that power the experience or indeed how the carry-bag is constructed, and how on earth ventilation works when its in action. Zotac tells us that the equipment on display in the video represents prototype hardware. The promotional blog post however refers to the company’s ZBOX line of mini-PCs, the minimum GPU specification required from consumer VR (NVIDIA GTX970 / AMD 290) is not available in a form factor that matches. The nearest equivalent to what Zotac is proposing is the very expensive line of laptops featuring NVIDIA’s full-fat GTX980 card. Above all else – how long will the batteries last with that kind of grunt under the hood?
As soon as we know more, we’ll let you know.