Introduction to VirtualLink

24th April 2020

The multiple cables needed for VR may finally shrink to just a single USB-C connection, thanks to VirtualLink. Those with a VR headset will be no stranger to the tangle of cables they need to plug in to, and this upgrade will not only reduce the clutter of cables, but it will also make PC-based VR more accessible.

What is VirtualLink?

“VirtualLink is an open industry standard developed to meet the connectivity requirements of current and next-generation virtual reality (VR) headsets. VirtualLink is a consortium defined Alternate Mode of USB Type-C™ designed to deliver the power, display, and data required to power VR headsets through a single USB Type-C connector.” VirtualLink Consortium

The VirtualLink Consortium includes Nvidia, Oculus, Valve, AMD and Microsoft. This covers all of the major hardware manufacturers of PC-based VR products, meaning virtual reality can move away from the multiple USBs and HDMIs that users currently need to connect up.

At the moment, VR devices are limited to those who have computers that can support the multiple connections needed. However, with VirtualLink, VR headsets will be able to connect up to a range of smaller devices including laptops, notebooks, and even tablets, if they have a USB-C port that can deliver both power and data through a single cable.

What are the benefits of VirtualLink?

Easy to setup

The setup of VR headsets will be significantly easier with VirtualLink, and quicker thanks to the singular connection.

One cable

VirtualLink will replace multiple cables for a single, lightweight USB-C connection.

Accessible

VirtualLink will allow a wider audience to enjoy VR headsets as it can be connected to a range of devices, from tablets to laptops and computer desktops with a USB-C port.

Future proof

As well as being more accessible and providing a more streamlined setup, VirtualLink has also been designed to support the future of VR. Offering a new level of immersion, data bandwidth, display and power, it will enable future VR headsets to deliver incredible performance. VitualLink also supports four HBR2 DisplayPort lanes for high-resolution displays, USB3.1 data channel for high-resolution cameras and sensors, and up to 27 watts of power.

VirtualLink is an exciting connectivity prospect that has been purpose-built for VR. It will drive a rich experience that will optimise performance and meet the demands needed for PC and headset manufacturers to deliver the next generation of VR.

Industry leaders within the VR industry are enthusiastic about this new standard of connectivity:

“We hope to see the results of this collaboration enhance the user experience and extend the possibilities for all developers and hardware manufacturers.” Pierre-Loup Griffais of Valve.

“We have been involved on VirtualLink from the beginning and are supportive of industry-standard approaches for emerging Windows experiences including mixed reality” Scott Evans, Microsoft.

“Simulating reality requires incredible visual fidelity and processing power. With a single, high-bandwidth cable, VirtualLink unlocks the full potential of the PC to power amazing VR experiences.” Jason Paul, general manager of gaming and VR, NVIDIA.

Here at Hardsoft, we are excited about these future prospects too, especially how VirtualLink will not only improve the industry in regard to VR, but also increase the adoption of Type-C across the industry. Although this standard is new, and not part of current technology, it is likely the next generation of VR headsets will have VirtualLink as the standard form of connectivity.

If you’re looking to invest in a VR headset now, check out our HTC VIVE Pro VR & AR Full Kit, starting from just £11.90 per week. This flexi-lease option will also give you option to upgrade, meaning you can enjoy the benefits of VR now, and upgrade your device when the next generation of VR headsets are released. The HTC VIVE Pro delivers uncompromising, super-rich colours and details that will bring your objects to life like never before.

If you have any questions about VR headsets or PCs, get in touch today to speak to an expert member of our team.