The VirtualLink Consortium was formed in July 2018 with some of the major VR industry players such as Oculus, AMD, NVIDIA, Valve and Microsoft as founders. HTC has joined the group, and will therefore begin to support the implementation of the VirtualLink specification, which makes it possible to connect VR headsets to the PC with just one USB-C cable. Enjoying premium virtual reality experiences has so far been cumbersome. The cables needed to keep the headset connected to the PC limit the movements, and in fact that is one of the reasons that the standalone headsets are beginning to gain interest among users.
VirtualLink cable spec is based on the Alternate Mode function of the USB Type-C standard, and allows the cables and connectors to carry non-USB signals. The VirtualLink cable can carry four high-speed DisplayPort High Bit-Rate 3 (HBD3) lanes, a single USB 3.1 data channel, and 27 watts of power for the headset’s displays and sensors. Setting up and using the VR headset with this kind of cable and connector will be therefore easier and not as clunky as before.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX family of graphics cards already supports VirtualLink, but no VR headsets that can take advantage of this type of connection have appeared on the market so far. With HTC on board, this company and Oculus may launch new models of the Vive and Rift respectively with this type of connector. We will see if that is enough to compete against the standalone headsets that as in the case of the Oculus Quest or the recent Samsung Odyssey+ seem to be having good reception among the users.