HTC Hopes 5G Will Make VR Headsets Lighter and Wireless

By Tom Pritchard on at

Here's one more thing to add to the list of reasons why you should care about 5G. According to HTC Product and Strategy VP Raymond Pao, 5G is the "perfect fit" for both VR and AR technologies, with the possibility of lighter headsets, wireless connectivity, and more realistic experiences".

Of course there are already wireless VR headsets around, or rather there are adaptors that can help existing headsets ditch all the cables they typically need to connect to a PC. I've used one with the original Vive headset, and it's quite good. It had some issues with connectivity, which HTC said was because the demo booth I was in at MWC was missing a few walls and the ceiling, but for the most part it worked exactly as advertised.

Unfortunately, according to Pao, the bandwidth and latency limits of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology means that there's only so much that can be implemented in current VR headsets. But, he says by "moving more computing power to the cloud" headsets can take advantage to strip down the hardware needed to beam into VR. Anyone who's used a VR headset will know that they're not enormously heavy, but spend too long strapped in and you'll start to notice just how bulky they are. So making the headsets lighter will likely improve the experience for everyone - and make people more likely to go out and by a headset they'll use regularly.

This idea was also mentioned by HTC CEO Cher Wang at this year's MWC, who mentioned Edge Computing (cloud computing at the 'edge' of the network, close to the data source) and low-latency data transmission  as two key features of 5G that would improve VR technology.

The downside here is that 5G is still a way off, with a Forrester industry report (via VentureBeat) claiming that 5G and AI investments won't really have much benefit to AR until 2020. That's assuming there's a live 5G network at that point, and with experts expecting a slow roll-out of 5G services regular people will likely have to wait even longer. HTC doesn't seem to be too phased, however, claiming its work utilising 5G will take three to five years to accomplish. [TechRadar]


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