Several players in the VR space have committed to developing a single, universal cable for VR headsets to replace the multiple cords that solutions like the Vive and Rift currently require. Until now, HTC wasn’t part of the effort. Not anymore.
HTC announced that it has joined the VirtualLink consortium to “define the future of VR.” The aim to replace multiple cables with a single lightweight cable that connects over USB-C, based on open standards that can (and would be) adopted by all involved.
“VirtualLink is designed to enable a new level of immersion in VR, with power, display, and data bandwidth specified to meet the needs of future VR headsets. That includes support for four lanes of HBR3 DisplayPort for high-resolution displays, USB 3.1 Gen2 (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps) for headset cameras and sensors, and up to 27 Watts of power delivery,” VirtualLink’s website explains.
Up until now, HTC was noticeably absent from the consortium. Other members include AMD, Microsoft, Oculus, and Valve—all of the heavy hitters in VR, in other words.
Members of the consortium believe that reducing cable clutter will ultimately open VR to a broader audience. Part of the reasoning is that headsets could then be plugged into a wider range of devices beyond just high-powered gaming PCs.
“In the future, with this new connector, VR could be used on a variety of USB-C supported devices, such as laptops, tablets, and notebooks,” HTC says.
All that said, ditching the cord altogether would be preferable. The primary challenge in going wireless is lag, though there are a few solutions available that purport to be up to the task. Going wireless also introduces battery life challenges.
We’ll have to wait and see what develops. For now, owning a headset like the Rift or Vive means either being physically tethered to a relatively powerful PC, or buying a wireless adapter.