TPCAST, which is developing wireless solutions for virtual reality (VR) headsets, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Huawei Wireless X Labs in a bid to develop a 5G cloud VR rendering solution, it was announced this week.
VR hardware falls into two basic categories at present. Mobile devices like Samsung Gear VR, which are cost effective, easily available and provide a decent experience, yet are hampered by smartphone processing power, or tethered headsets – either via PC or console – which provide a better visual experience, but feature high costs and poor mobility. What TPCAST and Huawei Wireless X Labs hope to do is bridge that gap by migrating complex image processing, currently managed locally, to the cloud to implement real-time cloud rendering of interactive VR content.
To do this TPCAST plans to offer an ultra-low latency codec and real-time VR data control protocol, while Huawei provides cutting-edge 5G network technologies. Introducing a powerful cloud server should improve computing and image processing capabilities for smartphones, enabled by hardware resource sharing among multiple users whilst reducing the investment required.
“TPCAST is excited to work with Wireless X Labs and develop the 5G cloud VR rendering solution,” said Michael Liu, CEO of TPCAST in a statement. “TPCAST’s ultra-low latency codec and real-time VR data control protocol makes cloud rendering possible. We are dedicated to working with Huawei to optimize our cloud rendering technologies and improve the VR experience. We are currently the only wireless VR solution provider to successfully complete the adaption of wireless VR HMDs — the world’s first. It is our solemn and inescapable duty to improve the cloud VR rendering solution. In addition, we have accumulated an abundance of technical experience and resources, which can help implement this solution.”
Wang Yufeng, who heads Huawei Wireless X Labs, emphasized that: “Cloud VR is an important use case for 5G networks. The connections between VR terminals and the cloud are crucial to deliver an optimal VR user experience. 5G networks can provide low latency and large bandwidth required by cloud rendering and content release. Huawei will provide world leading 5G network technologies and test environments and is honored to partner with TPCAST to verify cloud VR, laying a solid foundation for future trials and commercial deployment on many operators’ networks.”
The majority of smartphone users and networks currently use 4G. This can deliver peak download speeds of 300Mbit/s with response times of around 50 milliseconds (not that great for VR purposes). 5G on the other hand promises to offer speeds in excess of 1Gb/s, with many estimates placing it closer to 10Gb/s, boasting 1 millisecond end-to-end response times (much better for VR).
Just don’t get too excited, as at the moment 5G is still being tested. The first 5G networks available to the public are expected to roll out in the UK, US and South Korea in 2020, although these will be limited to major cities. Widespread 5G usage probably won’t happen until 2022.
VRFocus will continue its coverage of TPCAST and Huawei, reporting back with the latest announcements.