The new VirtualLink USB standard wants to combine USB, DisplayPort and power into a single cable, finally bringing to an end the nest of wires that you need to plug in most PC VR headsets. With the backing of Nvidia, AMD, Oculus, Valve, and Microsoft, it has a pretty decent chance of actually being adopted.
Cable-clutter is just one of the many problems facing virtual reality headsets at the moment. Even once you’ve got a PC powerful enough to run a headset at a decent frame rate, and you’ve cleared enough space in your living room, you then have to deal with a tangle of cables between your PC and the headset’s processing box.
The new VirtualLink standard can’t make your PC more powerful (in fact, you’ll need new hardware to get access to it), and it can’t make your living room bigger, but at least it can make the process of plugging in a headset that much easier.
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The way it works is by leveraging the universal USB Type-C connector to carry data, power, and display data through a single port.
If the standard takes off then the next group of companies to get involved will be case manufacturers.
In an ideal world you’d see neat USB-C port on the front of most PC cases, making it simple to plug your VirtualLink-compatible headset into the front of your machine.
If you can’t make them disappear, make them convenient
The eventual aim is to ensure that VR headsets are completely wireless, negating the need for cables and wires entirely.
HTC is taking its first tentative steps towards a wire-free VR future with the Vive Wireless adapter which is due to be launched later this summer, while TP-Cast has already released its wireless hardware out into the wild.
But something tells us we’re still going to be using wires for VR for the immediate future, and while that’s happening it’ll make VR a lot more convenient to have as few of them as possible.
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