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Millimeter Wave: Scientists Work on Tech Faster than Wi-Fi for Virtual Reality

Nov 16, 2016 06:21 AM EST
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Enter the mmWave. Scientists are starting to work on a new wireless technology that proves to be much faster than Wi-Fi and has massive bandwidth capabilities. Their first test? Virtual reality. 

People will remember the launch of virtual reality (VR) headsets such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. They will be sending high-definition video right in front of audiences through a cable directly connected to a computer or a console. However, this means your walking range is limited, and you can even get tangled up. This will be extremely annoying if you play games. 

Omid Abari and his colleagues created a system called MoVR that can stream data into the VR headset wirelessly. This changes the overall onvention that VR was just limited to cable. Abari and his colleagues, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), were able to create a system that can stream high-res  videos from a computer. 

However, these video streams use gigabits per second, and Wi-Fi cannot easily support this system. Glitches in this system can force users to become sick. So Abari's solution? Do not use Wi-Fi.

According to New Scientist, Abari and his team turned to what is called the mmWave (millimetre wave). It's a higher band of the frequency spectrum used by Wi-Fi, and because it's unused, it has a lot of bandwidth available. This means the technology can enable very high data rates.

However, the signals can only be focused on a small beam - which is easily blocked if the user raises a hand or even moves his head. To solve this, they made their MoVR device to act like a mirror that can bounce mmWave signals around any blacks. The small device can be placed on the wall, and when signals can't reach it, the device reroutes the signal.

This solves what appears to be a relentless problem that VR has --which is to remove the computer from the equation. Some, like the Samsung Gear, use a phone to display content. Facebook also revealed their standalone prototype called the Santa Cruz. However, the conveniences of both devices will be at the cost of image quality.

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