The HTC Vive currently offers by far and away the best virtual reality (VR) experience on the market, thanks to room-scale tracking that brings an added level of immersion that other headsets don't offer. The problem is that this equipment requires powerful components to run, namely a high-end PC attached to the headset at all times via cumbersome cables.
Virtual reality developer Quark VR is now working with game studio and HTC Vive co-developer Valve on a wireless version of the virtual reality headset that will allow it to work without being tethered to a PC. Rather than attempting to create an "all-in-one" device in which the computer unit is built into the headset itself, Quark VR and Valve have developed a portable device that attaches to the HTC Vive and streams signals from the PC over Wi-Fi.
Quark VR has been developing the portable HTC Vive transmitter since the middle of last year, but has only now shown off a working prototype of the wireless HTC Vive. The headset is connected to a small single board computer and a portable battery back, which the video shows being worn around the waist of the user.It doesn't make the headset wireless per se, but it does at least do away with trailing cables that can get tangled up and pose a serious tripping hazard to HTC Vive users – there's nothing like falling over an errant wire to ruin your VR fun, after all.
The battery in the prototype device allows for up to two hours of gameplay in its current form, Quark VR said. Presumably later iterations will be small enough to place into a shirt or trouser pocket to eliminate the need for something resembling a mountaineering harness.
The system uses proprietary software developed by Quark VR that enables media to be streamed from the PC to the headset without lag. According to the developer, the software is compatible with "a number of headsets", suggesting the device will be compatible with other SteamVR-compatible headsets such as the one in development by LG.
Quark VR added that there was still "a bit of polishing to do" before a wireless HTC Vive found its way into consumers' hands.