Programmable Millimeter-Wave Mirror Makes VR Wireless

One of the most critical components of a convincingly immersive virtual reality experience is the connection between the headset and the computer. Streaming high-resolution multiview video in real time demands a connection that can reliably handle sustained data rates of more than 6 gigabits per second, and as the resolution and frame rate of VR increases, bandwidth requirements are going to increase as well.

Speeds exceeding 6 Gb/s are easily achievable with a hard-wired connection, which explains why almost all VR systems have a big fat cable tethering the headset to a computer. This isn’t an issue for stationary VR, but there are more and more options being introduced that make moving around (at least a little bit) an integral part of VR’s immersive experience. So, being chained to your PC is annoying at best and completely illusion-breaking at worst.

MIT has been working on a way to cut the cord, which sounds like the obvious solution. Current Wi-Fi standards can’t handle the amount of bandwidth that VR needs, so MIT researchers have gone another route. They’ve created a system based on millimeter-wave signals (also the foundation of 5G), and directional phased-array “mirrors” that can bounce signals around a room in order to sidestep the line-of-sight issues common to millimeter-wave communications.

While wireless devices using the existing 802.11ad 60-gigahertz standard (WiGig) are capable of delivering the data throughput that VR demands,…[Read more]