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Rivvr allows wireless VR experience on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
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Rivvr allows wireless VR experience on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

by Salil Tembe2016/12/17

Oculus Rift VR headset can now go completely wireless with the help of Rivvr’s chord cutter. The start-up has produced a tiny attachment which fits behind the Rift for getting rid of wires. This amazing device will eventually help Oculus deliver a seamless VR experience. From what we know, the wireless device has entered private beta where you can register on their website to be a part of the testing.

An unhindered VR experience

Everyone who has tried out the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive know from experience that the cables limit your movement. These limitations hinder us from achieving a true VR experience. A tiny wireless device from Rivvr is intended to sit behind the headset and help us experience virtual reality in an unhindered way.

The HDMI video input and the headset’s USB will connect into the box. Now, the question remains, how will the headset communicate with your PC? The answer is simple. The Rivvr connects to your home WiFi to achieve connectivity. It will receive video input and at the same time transmit motion tracking data over the WiFi connection.

Rivvr VR hdmi connections

Rivvr hdmi connections

Fans don’t buy Zero Latency claims

Any wireless connection will have some latency no matter how fast it is. Correspondingly, a high latency can affect your VR experience. Imagine a situation where the motion tracking data lags by 50ms. In that case, you would find a disconnect between yourself and the virtual world. That itself defeats the purpose of the VR headset. Based on the information, there is a latency of 11ms which is pretty acceptable. Although, there are no issues with the latency, some other issues remain that are to be fixed before the final launch. For example, you may find a rare occurrence of video artefacts appearing on the Oculus screen. Even though the video might glitch for a split second, motion tracking remains unaffected at all times.

Even if Rivvr claims zero latency on their main page, the VR community is not ready to believe it until they see it. Reddit user flaystus demands,

“I dunno… I don’t buy it…. Rivvr better send me one to test and I’ll post back the results for everyone”

while Elrondel backs him up by saying,

“Yeah, can’t believe it ’til I see it. Myself. On my Vive”.

Open source community: An inspiration for start-ups

A 3D visual placed on the Rivvr website gives us an idea of what is inside. Looking at it, it appears to be quite barebones with a battery compartment and a circuit board having a HDMI output and a USB connector. The website also says it uses a single board computer having wireless connectivity. Based on the information, we can guess that they might be using a modified version of the Raspberry Pi Zero which also happens to have HDMI, USB and WiFi. I am not the only one to spot the Raspberry Pi Zero and get the whole thing reverse engineered in the head.

Rivvr components

Rivvr components and battery compartment

Redditer dino0386 points out,

“this just looks like a Pi zero and some batteries on their website”.

A little search lead me to this video where YouTube user Josh McAuliffe practically built the proof of concept for Rivvr with his puny little Raspberry Pi. He even used a battery pack to make his creation completely wireless. Josh isn’t the only one to try it out, YouTube user reverendkjr also had his go at the concept. My guess is that Rivvr saw this idea and found a good use for it.

Additionally, Rivvr might have even built a robust protocol for seamless HD video streaming over less bandwidth; something which is absent in the open source community because it is simply too hard. A lot of VR fans find it difficult to believe that Rivvr have achieved full HD video compression and transmission over WiFi without significant latency. That is because,

“11ms is VERY unlikely on that hardware, especially over such a network” as Eirches says.

It will be interesting to see how the open source and the VR community responds to this after the launch.

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About The Author
Salil Tembe

Salil is an electronics engineer who has a passion for expressing his love for technology through writing. He firmly stands for open sourcing everything that makes our lives better.

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