FIVE OF THE WORLD'S biggest tech companies have joined forces to launch an open industry standard that enables VR headsets to connect with PCs using a single, high-bandwidth USB Type-C connector, instead of a messy range of cords and connectors.
Called VirtualLink, the specification is purpose-built for VR and led by Nvidia, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft, who make up a completely new industry consortium of silicon, software, and headset manufacturers.
"To fulfil the promise of next-generation VR, headsets will need to deliver increased display resolution and incorporate high-bandwidth cameras for tracking and augmented reality," the consortium explained in a statement.
"This new connection, an Alternate Mode of USB-C, simplifies and speeds up VR setup time, avoiding key obstacles to VR adoption. It also brings immersive VR experiences to smaller devices with fewer ports, such as thin and light notebooks."
VirtualLink connects with VR headsets to deliver four high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes, which are scalable for "future needs". This includes a USB3.1 data channel for supporting high-resolution cameras and sensors and up to 27 watts of power.
It is also said to optimise for the latency and bandwidth demands that will enable headset and PC makers to deliver better experiences in the future of VR.
"Simulating reality requires incredible visual fidelity and processing power," said Nvidia's general manager of gaming and VR, Jason Paul. "With a single, high-bandwidth cable, VirtualLink unlocks the full potential of the PC to power amazing VR experiences."
Head of Rift at Oculus, Nate Mitchell, added: "At Oculus, we're committed to making VR easily approachable for a wide variety of people," said. "A consolidated connection point is critical in removing barriers to experiencing high-powered PC VR."
However, so far the VirtualLink alliance has only published an "advance overview" of their specification for companies that want to take advantage of it ahead of a 1.0 release, so it's going to be quite a while before future headsets can adopt the technology.
You'll notice that one of the biggest VR headset developers, HTC, isn't involved in the consortium. With Vive being one of the more popular devices, if HTC continues to use a different connector, the VR industry isn't going to achieve true standard across the board. µ
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