HTC took a major step when it announced a wireless VR add-on that will work with the original Vive and the newly announced Vive Pro. We’re very happy that a first-party solution now exists and there’s no downside to consumers here. However, HTC did not beat everyone to the punch here.
Instead, it’s been months since you could buy preorder a third-party solution from a company called TPCast. While not perfect, TPCast has been received favourably by the tech community as a whole, but the company has not just been sitting around. Surely they knew that the first-party producers were coming up with their own solutions and some ahead-of-the-curve thinking would be needed.
Accordingly, the company has announced a next-generation product that improves on their existing technology in almost every way. Its name? The TPCast 2.0
More Pixels than You Can Swing a GPU at.
The most striking claim for the TPCast 2.0 is that it will handle an 8K stream wirelessly. That’s quite a bit of future proofing since 8K HMDs are some way off. The only realistic product so far is the Pimax 8K units we saw at CES so for TPCast to say they are ready to stream it in practice is a big move. StarVR might also be in that ballpark, but it’s further away from getting into consumer hands as far as we can tell.
On top of such high bandwidth capabilities, TPCast also says that they’ve managed to reduce the level of latency to just 1 millisecond. That’s frankly astounding and if it turns out to be true this could turn out to be the best wireless solution so far. Of course, before any independent testing has taken place any claim should be taken with a big pinch of salt.
Both of these claims rest upon the new low-latency codec TPCast has created. They say that this codec can reduce the bandwidth needed by a VR content stream 50 to 1. It does this, they say, while providing “commercial grade” stability.
The hardware base for this new generation device uses different physical transmission standards to serve over different ranges. Short-range transmission is handled by Intel WiGig, just as with the HTC solution. Medium-range is handled by 802.11ax and long-range transmission through 5G cellular and fiber. In other words, it could support cloud-based VR software.
Waiting in Anticipation
We’ve waited for wireless VR ever since the initial release of current generation VR hardware. Now that we have it, it seems almost greedy to want more immediately. However TPCast has dangled the carrot and now one can’t help but egg them on to deliver.
A VR future that’s both not blurry AND wireless? Yes please!