Despite persistent rumours that HTC are planning to sell their virtual reality (VR) division, the company still seems to be very much involved with developing new VR technology. Reports have emerged suggesting that the company is currently testing untethered cloud VR services in China.
As many critics have pointed out, one of the major barriers to entry for current generation high-end VR is the cost, since a gaming PC rig with respectable specs can easily run to over $1000 (USD). According to Engadget, HTC are addressing this concern by untethering the HTC Vive from the PC, and using a 60 Mbps broadband connection to stream VR content from Viveport.
The advantage of this approach is twofold: Firstly, VR users will not need a PC, or the cumbersome wired setup currently required. Secondly, users will no longer need to wait for content to download to the PC.
There are, however, some problems with this approach. For any streaming content, there is the problem of latency – low latency is one of the keys to eliminating simulation sickness, so any increase in latency could pose an issue. In addition, any disruption to an internet connection would render the device effectively unusable – a major concern for users in areas with unreliable connections. On a related note, problems with the Viveport service would also mean the content is unavailable.
If commercial trials of this cloud VR service are successful, and issues such as connectivity can be resolved, cloud VR service could potentially be an option for those on a budget who are interesting high-end VR.
VRFocus will continue to report on new developments in VR technology.