TPCast and HTC Vive Wireless Adapter
Ever since the release of the first Oculus Rift Development Kit (DK1) in 2013 users of VR have craved the freedom to walk around their VR workspace without the cable connecting their headset to their PC, to not worry about stepping on the cable, tripping up or walking too far and pulling it out of the PC altogether. Just to have that cable tapping against your shoulder can break the immersion.
In 2017 TPCast brought out a wireless adapter which worked with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Not long afterwards, HTC brought out their own wireless adapter for the Vive and Vive Pro. Both solutions required the user to wear a receiver on top of the head connected to the HMD plus a battery and at the PC end there was a transmitter streaming the content from the PC. Each device cost approximately £350 - added to the original cost of the headset this would come in at around £900 to £1,200 (+ a PC or laptop) and a combined weight of approximately 830 grams compared to the headset’s original 470 grams.
Oculus Quest 2 + Virtual Desktop
In May 2019 Oculus released the first Oculus Quest - a standalone headset designed to play games and apps loaded onto the device or streamed over the internet instead of being connected to a PC. All the computing and rendering was done onboard the headset. Developers and enthusiasts almost immediately had software to stream full PC games from Steam - ALVR and RiftCat were two I tried (RiftCat was doing the same with the Gear VR years before this - not the best experience in my opinion).
Virtual Desktop was an excellent app which had been around since 2014 and was popular for the original Oculus Rift, enabling users to see and interact with the entire desktop (or multiple desktops) of the PC they were tethered to. Within months of the Quest being released, Virtual Desktop was able to achieve the same functionality as ALVR and RiftCat allowing users to be productive, play games and run powerful applications such as Geovisionary and Visionary Render.
Visionary Render on the Oculus Quest 2
If you can get SteamVR to use the full functionality of the Oculus Quest you can therefore enable SteamVR in Visionary Render Settings/Tracking/Mode. You then have one of the lightest headsets (503 grams) and best controllers with one of the clearest images and the freedom to walk around untethered. Current cost is £315 for the Oculus Quest 2 plus Virtual Desktop (+ a PC or laptop). At Facebook Connect 2020 John Carmack did hint of an official solution from Oculus and he coined it “Air Link”. Until then, there are a few steps (below) to go through to get this working, correct as of November 2020 (your PC must be cabled to your router and the router should be on the 5GHz or 6GHz band):
- Download and install Virtual Desktop from within the Oculus Quest store
- Download and install SideQuest on your VR ready PC/laptop https://sidequestvr.com/setup-howto
- Register as a developer on the Oculus website (it’s really easy) https://dashboard.oculus.com/organizations/create/
- Download and install ADB drivers from Oculus (run “android_winusb.inf” once extracted) https://developer.oculus.com/downloads/package/oculus-adb-drivers/
- With your Quest switched on, enable developer mode on the mobile you used to initiate the Quest (Oculus app, select the Quest, Settings/More Settings/Developer Mode)
- Reboot your Oculus Quest
- Connect your Quest to the PC with either the provided USB C to C cable or a USB C to USB A (“Anker USB C cable 10 foot” from Amazon)
- With it connected, launch SideQuest on your PC, put on your headset and allow USB debugging. Disconnect the Quest from your PC.
- Download and install the Virtual Desktop Streamer App on your PC https://www.vrdesktop.net/
- Launch it and enter your Oculus Username - click save
- In your Quest, launch Virtual Desktop
The above may sound like a lot of steps but once done all you have to do is launch the Streamer app then within the Quest launch Virtual Desktop and you will be presented with all of your PC Oculus and SteamVR apps - and you can use your desktop. There are many videos on YouTube if a visual guide is required.
The rate of change within the HMD sector over the last few years has been incredible and isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. Eye tracking, mouth tracking and heart rate sensors built-in to a single headset are months away from release - Oculus (from Facebook) have reset the bar for what’s possible and others are not far behind.