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December 12, 2017

Virtual Reality Is Going To Be WiGig

I don’t know about you, but my Wi-Fi service is having problems keeping up with my 4K TV, my family’s laptops, etc. But the Wi-Fi Alliance has embraced the 60 GHz WiGig standard as a solution for devices in the home that could change this, with its wireless data throughput speeds that can reach up to 7 Gbps.

I recently talked with Ron Glibbery, CEO of Peraso Technologies, a Toronto-based company that develops WiGig chipsets for a range of indoor and outdoor applications, including fixed wireless broadband, backhaul and mesh networks – and virtual reality, among other use cases. And for the purposes of this article, I wanted to concentrate on WiGig’s role in the shift to wireless VR as we move into 2018.

While VR is still a relatively nascent market, there have been some significant developments over the last year. Microsoft’s recent mixed reality announcement brings with it a common app development platform for VR content and a large ecosystem of PC vendors that also manufacture VR headsets. And analyst firm Canalys just released a Q3 report showing record VR momentum, with headset shipments surpassing 1 million units for the first time ever.

As this growth continues, migrating to wireless VR is an obvious next step. Like most devices that were once tethered – from phones, remote controls and speakers to keyboards, headphones and more – people nearly always prefer the simplicity and freedom of wireless. This is especially true for VR. In addition to being a safety hazard, the cord detracts from the virtual experience, forcing users to remain aware of where they are in relation to it at all times.

Because of its performance benefits, ABI Research is projecting that WiGig will be the predominant wireless technology for VR, nearly 84% of headsets relying on it by 2022, a shift that is likely to include gaming console companies as well.

Glibbery says WiGig will also impact the form factor of VR headsets, eliminating the need for a CPU on the device and requiring a lot less battery power, which means we will start to see leaner, lighter goggles that don’t look like scuba gear.

“We’re seeing lots of positive growth and important early milestones in VR, but to deliver a truly immersive experience and generate a mass market, all device manufacturers are aware of the need to cut the cord on headsets – and make them much more user friendly,” Glibbery commented.

“There’s no question that VR is a killer app for WiGig. It’s a highly bandwidth-intensive application that requires 2Gbps and near-zero latency, and WiGig inherently dwarfs the capabilities of traditional, congested Wi-Fi networks in delivering these capabilities. And VR is just the tip of the WiGig opportunity for in-room multi-gigabit applications.”

According to Glibbery, WiGig is also ideal for meshing, a trend that will likely grow in 2018 as operators move from centralized to more distributed access points to deliver gigabit services evenly throughout the home. This means a network of per-room WiGig devices should better manage throughput.

The Wi-Fi Alliance certifies WiGig-enabled devices based on the IEEE 802.11ad standard, which means we may begin to see both Wi-Fi and WiGig referenced on the electronics we buy in the retail store – like smartphones, TVs, VR headsets, gaming consoles, dongles and wireless routers, among others.

As a company with a singular focus on developing 60GHz integrated circuits for commercial and test chipsets, Peraso is sitting right in the middle of the shift to WiGig.

Based on my own experiences, WiGig adoption cannot come quick enough.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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