Cut the cord: This unassuming device may help untether virtual reality headsets

mit movr wireless csail 20161108 001
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers wants to cut the cord between computers and virtual reality headsets with a new prototype system called MoVR. Developed by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), MoVR may soon make high-resolution wireless VR a reality.

Today’s VR headsets must be tethered to a computer via an HDMI cable in order to deliver high-resolution images. Wireless tech like WiFi simply can’t cut it.

The team at MIT employed millimeter waves (mmWaves) — extremely high-frequency radio signals that are already used in advanced astronomy and medical research.

“[Millimeter wave] technology has been around for many years, but it has traditionally been very difficult to harness them for an application like virtual-reality because they can get easily obstructed,” lead author and CSAIL PhD candidate Omid Abari told Digital Trends.

MmWaves need to have a direct line of sight from transmitter to receiver. If anyone or anything obstructs the signal, the system won’t work.

“MoVR overcomes this by acting as a programmable mirror that can detect the direction of mmWave signals and reconfigure itself to reflect mmWaves toward the headset,” Abari said.

MoVR devices consists of two antenna, each about half the size of a credit card. These antenna detect mmWave signals from the computer (transmitter) and effectively shift their angle to direct the focused, narrow beams to the headset (receiver).

Abari suggests that future devices could be scaled down even further to allow multiple devices in one room so a number of users could interact in a shared VR experience without blocking each other’s signals.

The current system is just a research prototype and needs a USB cable to deliver power, but a paper published by MIT suggests that a small battery would be able to cut the power cable as well. It has also so far only been tested on the HTC Vive headset but the team insists it isn’t limited to this device.

Mobile

5G phones make a lot of promises. Here’s what to really expect

There has been a lot of marketing copy expounding the potential benefits of 5G networks, but a lot less on the practical implications of 5G smartphones. There's a reason for that.
Mobile

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

The Razer Wireless Charger adds colorful flair to your desk or bedside table. It works with any phone that supports Qi wireless charging -- with some quirks -- but is it worth the high price tag? We take a look.
Home Theater

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent HD antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be touch. To help, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.
Mobile

Benchmark results show Snapdragon 855 destroys previous-generation chip

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.
Gaming

HTC brings two new headsets, a VR browser, and ‘Netflix for VR’ to CES 2019

HTC Vive made several new announcements to CES 2019, including two new headsets, a new subscription service, and a new user interface that completely transforms how applications are launched.
Photography

Camera records real-life scenes to design virtual worlds using a single device

Creating virtual reality worlds may get a bit easier in 2019 -- the Axis is a camera module that records a 180-degree depth map, allowing designers to reconstruct the scene for virtual or augmented reality.
Product Review

HTC puts eye-tracking tech in Vive Pro Eye to make next-gen VR hands-free

With the announcement of integrated eye tracking for the Vive Pro Eye, hands-free VR, less demanding high-quality experiences, and intuitive software, are all on the table.
Gaming

The Vive Pro Eye uses Tobii eye-tracking technology to make VR more lifelike

HTC revealed the Vive Pro Eye with eye-tracking support at its CES 2019 press conference on January 7. We now know that Tobii will be the company responsible for integrating the technology.
Computing

Oculus’ Quest is the headset that will make me (and you) a VR believer

Without excessive wires or complicated setup, and a price point that makes sense for tech that just isn't there yet, Oculus' upcoming standalone headset, the Quest, could bring VR mainstream.
Gaming

Dive headfirst into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Gaming

The best VR headsets at CES 2019 could bring the technology to the mainstream

While there weren't a ton of new VR headset on display at CES 2019, the ones we saw led us to believe that VR could have a real moment soon, both from a gaming and business standpoint.
Gaming

These are the coolest virtual and augmented reality gadgets from CES 2019

CES 2019 had plenty of VR and AR gadgets on display, including headsets that completely change how you experience virtual reality, and some that don't even require a PC or a phone to run.
Gaming

These shoes let me stroll through ‘Skyrim,’ and I desperately want to go back

After being funded in just two hours on Kickstarter back in October 2018, Cybershoes has earned itself a place among the coolest VR walking and running tech. At CES 2019, we got to try them out and they live up to the hype.
Gaming

The Teslasuit could turn Black Mirror’s terrifying ‘Playtest’ into a reality

We spoke with Teslasuit co-founder Dimitri Mikhalchuk about VR gaming at CES 2019. With all its features, the future of the Teslasuit and virtual reality look bright. And it also sounds a bit like a Black Mirror episode.