One of the things that makes PC gaming so great is the how open the industry is. You get to pick the right parts that fit your budget and what you're wanting from your gaming hobby, but sometimes this open nature can lead to fragmentation. This is why it's nice to have some industry standards. Slowly but surely, the VR industry will get standards for certain aspects and today we got a new standard for the cables the headsets will use.
Currently, the two main PC VR headsets, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, have two separate methods of connecting their HMDs to PCs. Today, industry leaders like Oculus, Valve, nVidia, AMD and Microsoft have announced that they will be using a singular standard for connections, the VirtualLink. In general terms, it's nothing revolutionary. It's not a lot of new tech but just taking current tech, standardizing it, which will make things more convenient for consumers. This will also have a side benefit for creators of HMDs that will make things cheaper for them. So that's nice.
For the specifics of this new cable, it will be a single, high-bandwidth USB Type-C cable that provides four HBR3 DisplayPort lanes, a USB3.1 data channel, and it will be able to deliver up to 27 watts of power. There were rumors that the next wave of nVidia GPUs would have a new port on them specifically for VR, so this could be that... maybe...
One thing I found funny in the release about this new cable standard were these two quotes, “At Oculus, we’re committed to making VR easily approachable for a wide variety of people” and, “A consolidated connection point is critical in removing barriers to experiencing high-powered PC VR. With the adoption of VirtualLink technology, purpose-built for VR, we look forward to helping push the industry forward into the next phase of VR.” Both of those quotes come from the same person and are pretty darn reasonable that most consumers and VR Arcade owners probably agree on, so you're probably wondering why I said it's funny. Well, they're both quotes from the head of Rift at Oculus, Nate Mitchel. A company that has created a walled garden system around the Oculus platform with Oculus Home and its exclusive games that are not available on platforms like SteamVR, Windows's VR store, or the Sony PSVR.
Despite that 'clearly just a PR statement and something that matches what we say but not how we're acting' quote, this is an overall great thing for people making VR hardware and for those consuming VR content. As someone who is going to be spending a lot of money in the VR industry, I am very excited to see more and more standards agreed upon by the big players so that things get cheaper and simpler on the user end. If you would like to read the full release about VirtualLink then you can read the full article HERE.