MIT breakthrough lets virtual reality gamers cut the chord

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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • Consumers love convenience and by helping to cut the chords on VR headsets MIT’s new breakthrough could help speed up the technology’s adoption


 

Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new technology that lets data be transmitted at much higher speeds than today’s off the shelf WiFi products and the technology could be used to help virtual reality headset manufacturers cut the chords.

Current virtual reality headsets have to be tethered to a computer because using todays wireless technology it’s pretty much impossible to stream 3D video. There’s just too much data to get across. But hooking up a VR headset to a computer makes it difficult to use VR with any sort of freedom, and creates a tripping hazard if you’re trying to walk around. It’s a hard life…

 

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Some companies, like MSI, have tried to get around the problem by creating a backpack computer but needless to say it’s expensive, bulky and only works for one person at a time.

MIT’s solution was to use something called Millimeter Wave Wireless Technology (MWWT). Millimeter waves are like the radio waves used in WiFi technology, but are higher frequency and the higher frequency of millimeter waves means they can transmit more information, which makes them well suited for VR.

However, there’s a problem. Unlike radio waves, which pass through people and walls as they travel from transmitter to receiver, millimeter waves can be blocked. In a VR setup, this means that if the user turns around or puts their hand in front of the headset, the connection can be interrupted.

To get around this problem, the researchers developed a new technology, called MoVR, that can reflect and redirect millimeter waves so they reach the VR headset no matter what’s in the way.

 

 

MoVR detects incoming millimeter waves from a transmitter, and uses two directional antennae to reflect it toward the receiver. MoVR is accurate to within 2 degrees, and can redirect waves within a fraction of a second for uninterrupted transmission.

The system was tested with an HTC Vive, but the researchers say it can work with any VR headset. Their next step is to shrink the device so that it’s the same size as a smartphone, and then you might be able to play your VR games without worrying about tripping over cables.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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