November 14, 2016

movr-mit

Current virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift need to be connected physically to a PC. Now a project at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is working on a way to cut the cord and have VR headsets work wirelessly.

The project is called “MoVR”, and it uses two directional “phased-array” antennas (shown above), each of which is supposed to be half the size of a credit card. The technology combines the antennas with the transmission of  “millimeter waves” (mmWaves) that are supposed to handle data speeds of up to 6 Gbps, which in theory should be enough to handle all the data needed from a PC to a VR headset.

There is one big catch with using mmWaves; they can be easily blocked by a wall or nearly any other obstacle. However, the MoVR team has found a way around this problem:

To overcome this challenge, the team developed MoVR to act as a programmable mirror that detects the direction of the incoming mmWave signal and reconfigures itself to reflect it toward the receiver on the headset. MoVR can learn the correct signal direction to within two degrees, allowing it to correctly configure its angles.

The system has been set up to work with the HTC Vive but the MoVR team says the technology could work on any VR headset. Exactly how long it will take for this to make its way to consumer devices is still unknown. Last week, HTC announced that it was taking pre-orders in China for a third-party Vive accessory that would enable the headset to be used wirelessly as well. However, the company currently has no plans to offer this add-on outside of China.

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