TPCast revealed that it is working on a wireless adapter that supports the Oculus Rift headset. The TPCast unit uses a proprietary wireless transmission solution to deliver a tether-free VR experience with nearly no additional latency.
TPCast first revealed its wireless VR adapter in November 2016, when it announced a partnership with HTC that would enable people in China to upgrade their Vive headset to remove the data cable. At CES in January, the two companies revealed that the rest of the world would be able to go wireless later this year.
The TPCast wireless adapters aren’t yet available in North America, but you can now order the kits in Europe, and the hardware has been shipping in China for six months. Pre-orders for North American customers were supposed to start in September, but for unknown reasons, they have yet to begin. Perhaps the delay has something to do with the company’s latest announcement: During Oculus Connect 4, TPCast revealed that it's developing a wireless upgrade kit for the Oculus Rift that should also be available before the end of the year.
“TPCast is committed to support[ing] the Oculus Rift HMD with our unique wireless technology solutions, and provide VR users a high-quality, immersive VR encounter,” said TPCast CEO Michael Liu. “With the TPCast wireless adapter, we will be changing the VR usage and experience by providing the complete freedom of movement with no cables attached.”
It’s unclear if the company is building a separate product or adapting its current hardware to work with the Rift headset. From what we know of TPCast’s technology, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why the Vive adapter wouldn’t work with the Rift except for perhaps the power draw. The TPCast adapter already has a USB port and an HDMI port, and the wireless system is built to transport the data from both ports through the air. We’re not sure if the USB port can carry power from the TPCast battery pack, however. The Vive draws its power from an AC plug, which feeds directly into the battery pack. TPCast may need to redesign the power interface to support a Rift headset.
If TPCast did redesign the wireless adapter to support the Rift, it didn’t change much. The specifications that the company revealed match the Vive-compatible hardware. The TPCast wireless adapter can push a 2K video signal at 90fps over the waves with less than 2ms of additional latency. And it can do that constantly for five hours on a single charge.
TPCast gave no indication when the wireless adapters would be available to order, but the company maintains that it would ship the Vive kits before the end of the year, and now it's said that the Rift version will be available in that timeframe, too.
When the TPCast kits become available, we don’t expect them to be cheap. In early September, Microsoft listed a pre-order page by mistake, which indicated the U.S. price would be $300. As annoying as the tether can be, an extra $300 is a hefty tax to pay to remove it, especially when you consider that Oculus just permanently dropped the price of the Rift with Touch bundle to $399.