VirtualLink VR Headset Connection Standard Has Been Abandoned

VirtualLink was an open commonplace that outlined a USB-C primarily based connection protocol that was “developed to satisfy the connectivity necessities of present and next-generation VR headsets,” and backed by main VR trade gamers. The objective was to make a single, skinny cable the norm for connecting VR headsets to PCs, as a substitute of getting a number of connectors (USB, video, and typically extra energy) on the PC-end of the cable. Sadly the usual didn’t achieve traction and seems to now be deserted by the group that created it.

VirtualLink was introduced again in 2018 with the backing of NVIDIA, AMD, Microsoft, Valve, Oculus, and HTC—representing a bulk of probably the most important gamers within the VR trade.

The usual would piggy-back off of USB-C as an “alternate mode” to supply 4 high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes, a USB3.1 knowledge channel for on-board cameras, and as much as 27 watts of energy. The usual was stated to be “purpose-built for VR,” being optimized for latency and the wants of next-generation headsets.

On the outset, VirtualLink had seemingly robust momentum. All of NVIDIA’s newest desktop GPUs on the time, the RTX 20-series, have been introduced with an included USB-C port which supported VirtualLink. Excessive-end headsets like StarVR and XTAL built-in VirtualLink to switch what would in any other case be 4 connectors (USB, energy, and 2x video) right into a single modern cable that plugged straight into the GPU. Valve introduced that it could promote a VirtualLink adapter for its Index headset which might slim down its three connectors to the only USB-C connector. However for some cause VirtualLink’s momentum faltered.

So far as we all know, regardless of being a part of the usual’s consortium of backers, AMD by no means added VirtualLink assist to any its GPUs. The second wave of Nvidia’s RTX 20-series playing cards (the ‘Supers’) additionally dropped the USB-C port of the playing cards that preceded them. Valve cancelled the VirtualLink adapter for its Index headset, citing each reliability points and saying that “VirtualLink know-how has not been extensively adopted by producers, laptops particularly (the place a single connection might be probably the most helpful), translating to only a few PCs having viable ports for the connection.”

This week—in a transfer that seemingly places the ultimate nail within the VirtualLink coffin—Nvidia introduced its model new 30-series GPUs, none of which seem to incorporate the mandatory USB-C port. What’s extra, the official VirtualLink web site seems to have begun redirecting to the VirtuaLink Wikipedia entry someday round July.

Street to VR spoke to VRgineers, one of many solely corporations to truly construct a headset with the VirtualLink commonplace.

Photograph by Street to VR

I acquired to see their XTAL headset with VirtualLink connection earlier this 12 months and it was actually fairly spectacular to see an extremely high-resolution headset with two big shows working completely from a skinny cable plugged right into a single port at the back of a pc.

XTAL’s two massive shows, SteamVR Monitoring Sensors, eye-tracking, and hand-tracking module have been all served by a single VirtualLink cable (proper) | Photograph by Street to VR

Whereas the corporate has created an adapter to permit their XTAL headset to work with commonplace ports, it instructed us that “the [VirtualLink] consortium has not operated for fairly a while now. […] However it’s a disgrace as a result of it’s actually dependable and handy interface and communication protocol.”

Street to VR reached out to members of the VirtualLink consortium however hasn’t obtained a response.

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