if a user is effectively locked into a box, restricted by the cord, it essentially defeats the purpose of having them immersed in a supposed 360-degree environment,” Unity's Riccitiello said, emphasizing that freedom of movement is key for VR moving forward. “This industry won't work if you're tethered to a PC. It won't work unless you can experience things the way you do in real life.”
To illustrate his point Riccitiello shared a story of how he went to see the hit play Hamilton in New York. That same day he also visited Ghostbusters Dimension, a VR experience (which he disclosed was created with the Unity engine) that is branded as a “hyper-reality” experience. Players take on the role of Ghostbusters by donning VR gear with game play that requires them to move through a real world obstacle course. Ghostbusters Dimension has users wear computers on their backs (that mimic the Ghostbusters' proton packs) in order to give players a cordless experience.
“I preferred that experience to Hamilton,” Riccitiello said, with all seriousness. Bringing this same sort of experience into the home, Riccitiello believes, will be the true tipping point for VR – and it's only one to two years away by his estimation. “That experience will be at your home... There's a lot of enthusiasm now and it's already happening in bits and pieces.”
A promotional clip for Ghostbusters Dimension, which blends untethered VR with real-world objects.
The challenge of creating untethered, mobile VR is already being undertaken by a lot of companies – creating what's called inside-out tracking, that allows VR headsets to track position without the use of external sensors. Startup Chirp Microsystems , for example, is attempting to do with with ultrasound sensors, while big names like Oculus and HTC are already promising their next generation headsets will be cordless. In 2016 Intel acquired Movidius, a computer vision and deep learning company whose technology Intel is leveraging to create inside-out tracking with six-degrees of freedom movement.
4.) VR Needs 5G Speed
VR and AR technologies, on all ends from collaborative enterprise to consumer entertainment, are already demanding more than ever from our computer hardware (see price concerns mentioned earlier), and soon they'll be doing it for our data communication speeds as well.
The answer for many lies in the further development of 5G – opening up more of the spectrum for faster wireless communication. Soqui said Intel is already working to develop technologies that would use the 60 Ghz spectrum for wireless VR and is working on beamforming and signal bouncing methods to keep these higher frequencies from being blocked by solid objects. The company is also developing a 5G modem that it says is the first 5G RFIC to support both sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum.
5G will also have larger implications as the Internet of Things (IoT) expands. Other companies like Qualcomm and T-Mobile are also investing heavily into 5G development and National Instruments recently announced a channel sounder system, created in collaboration with AT&T, for scientists and engineers working to develop