Here's a wireless Vive add-on by HTC that actually works as advertised. It's called the TPCAST, a peripheral HTC announced hush-hush last month, which promised to cut the cord between the Vive VR headset and the user's gaming rig.
The TPCAST was designed and created by a startup inside HTC's Vive X accelerator program. The add-on, unfortunately, is only available for preorder in China as of the moment, but it's headed worldwide soon. It's also being showcased at this year's CES for the time being.
VR headsets typically require players to tether the device directly into a gaming rig, often with thick, bulky cables. Going wireless is, of course, the most obvious solution to this, but the bandwidth requirements just eclipse today's mainstream standards. It could theoretically work, but the execution would be disastrous with the frame rate taking the toll.
But the TPCAST, according to The Verge, functions "without much, if any, noticeable lag." At times there were skipped frames, but that could be owed to the tracking interference in the crowded demo area, since the product was tried out at CES.
Assuming it works more steadily in a household setup, the TPCAST is poised to truly innovate room-scale VR experiences. The device, as promising as it sounds, is not without its own issues. For one, there's the appalling battery life, lasting only two hours. Additionally, the device isn't entirely wireless, because there's still a cable jutting out of the headset, with a battery meant to be stored in a pocket. These gripes spell inconveniences, but at least true wireless VR is getting there, albeit slowly.
There's still a looming specter closely hovering VR, cloaking its potential with an insidious self-detrimental banner that suggests "VR is still a gimmick" or "it's just a phase," but it arguably isn't. The technology might still be cutting its teeth for now, but it's too far down the road to simply be dismissed. VR is here to stay, as Engadget puts it, and developers are bound to craft solutions down the line that'll turn VR into a simpler and more viable experience to ultimately enter.
Other Devices In The Pipeline
The company also announced a collaboration with Intel, which is currently developing a WiGig-based wireless VR solution that's capable of 360-degree tracking. HTC, however, remains open to alternative wireless VR solutions, assuming they can develop workarounds for the device's demand for throughput and low latency.
HTC also unveiled the Vive Tracker, a device that'll make it easy for developers to track objects in virtual reality. The company says that it has created a "simple connection" for developers to integrate the Vive Tracker into their accessories, all of which, put simply, results in a more immersive VR experience.
HTC has also significant things in store for the VivePort app store, calling it a "Netflix for VR." Essentially, it'll be a trial-based subscription model for VR apps and games.
Pricing And Availability
TPCAST launches worldwide in the second quarter of this year for $249, with a planned battery pack accessory that adds five hours of extended battery life on top of the peripheral's two-hour default lifespan.
What do you think of the TPCAST? Could this usher in true wireless VR experiences once and for all? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!