A brief history of VR streaming

VR headsets and issues faced by the early adopters With the first wave of modern VR headsets, the cables have always been a struggle. Figuring out the cable management can be a problem on its own, but cables breaking every 2 to 4 months has always been a huge (sensible is the wrong word to use here) problem. One that leads to extra expenses as those cables are not cheap by any means. Things get even worse when an HMD manufacturer releases a new model and the replacement cables for the previous generation slowly but surely go out of stock. First Generation Solutions What emerged as a solution is to attach a power bank to the HMD and simply stream the video/audio output. The very first attempt came from the Chinese company TPCast. Though the solution worked, it had many drawbacks – an extra router for the WirelessHD technology, audio/microphone issues, and codec quality (vertical green lines cannot go unnoticed). Less than a year later, HTC released its “Vive Wireless Adapter” – a solution based on Intel® WiGig and a notable improvement over the first streaming attempt. Still, the Vive Wireless Adapter came up with two major flaws – it requires a PCI card, making the entire solution not supported for laptops. Worse, due to frequency licensing reasons, the WiGig technology allows up to 3 devices in the same play space, making it hard for adoption in a free-roam environment. Still, we have seen some creative approaches like mixing Vive Wireless with backpack PCs. Over time, the backpack solution emerged as the preferred free-roam setup, but again, it came up with its own flaws. This time it turned out to be the quick degradation of the batteries and the overly questionable product lifespan. More Band-Aid Solutions What came up next is a client<->server software called Virtual Desktop (VD). VD turned out to be a good VR streaming solution that has seen a lot of updates and good adoption. It became even more popular with the release of the WiFi 6E technology and its adoption in the XR2 Qualcomm chip (used in devices like Meta Quest 2, Pico Neo 3 Pro, and Focus 3). In 2021, Oculus released its own streaming solution called AirLink. Other notable applications are the “Pico Link” app for the Pico Interactive ecosystem and “Vive Business Streaming” by HTC. All those applications do a great job, but how good are they for commercial use? Virtual Desktop – the application is good, but it gets more and more updates tailored to the home users … things you don’t want your users to mess up with. AirLink – the streaming functionality is part of the Windows Oculus application and as such, it requires a Facebook account. Pico Link – over the past 2 years, Synthesis has contributed multiple suggestions to the Pico streaming software and it only gets better Vive Business Streaming (VBS) – the app is pretty good and can be paired to a PC without the need for user interactions, but still, it heavily relies on the HTC’s LBE support and is locked to the HTC ecosystem What SynthesisVR wants to achieve? At SynthesisVR, we strive for an open ecosystem. We strive for standards and functionalities done in a way beneficial for everyone. Given the reliance of the listed applications on specific brands and hardware, we realized we actually need an Ultimate Streaming Solution – one that would work across all current and future VR headsets. Introducing QuarkXR – a company that we have known for more than 6 years. Back in 2016, QuarkXR gave us a demo of their first VR streaming solution. Since then, QuarkXR is on a consistent growth path and with successfully completed projects for major corporations like Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Vodafone, Ericsson, and others. What does this mean for the LBE/LBVR ecosystem? The SynthesisVR <-> QuarkXR collaboration was established with the sole goal of providing the PERFECT streaming solution for all the VR arcades worldwide: Benefits of this collaboration A tiny Windows streaming app is all that is needed, supporting all the standalone VR headsets and requires no external accounts or extra applications Simple PCVR<->HMD pairing process No visual interactions by the player/customer HMD hot-swap/replacing the connected HMD without closing the game Variable bitrate settings for maximum control over the stream’s performance/quality Unified Kiosk Mode across multiple HMD brands Persistent VR Streaming mode Easy switch between VR streaming and individual on-device VR sessions No overhaul for the arcades – the QuarkXR streaming is completely free for the SynthesisVR customers! If you have any questions regarding this post or how to take advantage of this new solution please email info@synthesisvr.com.