Smartphone-based virtual reality headsets are great and all, but for the best games and experiences you need a dedicated facehugger tethered to a powerful PC like it's a diver's lifeline. Wireless hardware is one of the inevitable next steps for VR, and a company called TPCAST is already developing a cord-cutting peripheral for the Vive, supported by HTC's VR accelerator program. MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is making headway in this area too, today releasing research into a wireless system that's both headset-agnostic and could address some unforeseen problems with peripherals like TPCAST's.
MIT CSAIL's prototype system, known as MoVR, uses millimeter waves to send data from a transmitter that's hooked up to a computer to the headset's receiver. These high-frequency radio waves are capable of maintaining wireless connections at speeds over 6 Gbps -- enough bandwidth to stream the two, high-definition feeds required for VR -- but the signal doesn't penetrate objects well. As VR games and experiences typically require you move around in physical space, there is a high chance of your floor-standing lamp or flailing arms blocking the signal and impacting performance, in turn breaking the immersion.
To solve this problem, CSAIL's system includes a millimeter wave "mirror" -- an intermediate device that receives the original broadcast and tracks the position and orientation of the wearer in real-time, always aiming the signal directly at the headset receiver. In this way, the millimeter waves can avoid furniture, limbs and anything else that could interfere and impact performance.