The version of TPCast wireless VR I tried at CES in Las Vegas in January 2017 was the TPCast prototype. Now, as TPCast is preparing to launch in the US in Q3, 2017 the competition is starting to heat up. Both Intel and DisplayLink are demoing their WiGig solutions.
VRCircle chats with Michael Liu CEO of TPCast to find out their thoughts on the competition and provide an update to the TPCast solution.
Here are a few highlights of the interview:
- TPCast is still on schedule for Q3 2017.
- The standard battery included with TPCast will last 5 hours.
- TPCast is planning to release wireless technology for other HMDs, to be announced later this year.
- TPCast will be announcing support for wireless 3K and 4K headsets later this year.
Full Interview with Michael Liu CEO of TPCast
VRCircle: Previously, Frank Zhou (CTO TPCast) had stated that shipping was due in Q3 of 2017 due to FCC approval delays. Can you provide any update to this?
Michael Liu: TPCast is finalizing with the FCC now. We are coming very soon, certainly in Q3 2017.
We are currently finalizing distribution channels with partners as well. I cannot say who they are yet, but customers will be able to order online from the big names very quickly and some retail locations where people can go to the store and test it out.
VRCircle: What about pricing? Have you firmed up the price?
We cannot announce the final price yet. Everything will be announced together, the distribution channels and pricing.
VRCircle: How is TPCast going to differentiate themselves now that Intel and DisplayLink are both working on their WiGig wireless HMD solutions?
Michael Liu: TPCast uses WirelessHD technology which is optimized for video and audio whereas WiGig is optimized for data as in any WiFi network.
TPCast with WirelessHD will allow us to bring wireless HMD to market faster than WiGig. Also, TPCast is a solution provider and provides an end to end solution for wireless VR. As the technology evolves, TPCast will evolve to whatever technology works best for wireless VR. Today that is WirelessHD.
Pre-orders for TPCast started last November 2016, and those were sent out in March 2017 in China. Many of those customers are located in arcades, so they are being used all day under extreme circumstances. Since that time, we have responded to feedback from the customers and fixed issues reported by them. The product is now much more stable and has been refined nicely. The product is proven in the China market and is very durable, and the battery will last for five hours or longer.
VRCircle: The five hours you mention for battery life, is that the XL battery or the standard battery?
Michael Liu: It is the XL battery. We will be supplying the XL battery with the headset as standard in the US market.
VRCircle: To clarify, as part of the regular TPCast headset, this will ship as standard with the XL 5 hour battery?
Michael Liu: Yes, it will. We have also done a lot of optimization on the software side since the first version shipped. The setup & installation will be easier than that of the WiGig solutions. TPCast will be plug and play. The DisplayLink solution will require the customer to open up their PC and add a WiGig card to their PC. The TPCast solution is plug and play, just USB and HDMI connections are needed.
VRCircle: Is there any software to install?
Michael Liu: Yes, the customer will need to download and install software. Straightforward setup.
VRCircle: So it sounds like the US version of the TPCast will almost be version 1.1?
Michael Liu: More like version 1.2!
VRCircle: Describe the difference between the consumer version and the business edition?
Michael Liu: The consumer edition will launch first, then the business version a few months later. The business edition will allow more than one device at the same time.
VRCircle: This covers the HTC Vive. However, there is also a large market for Oculus Rift and PSVR who would also love to drop their cable. Are there any plans for those customers?
Michael Liu: Oh yes, of course. We are working on getting the HTC Vive complete now. HTC have also been a great partner in getting this out, especially since we are going to be the first wireless solution. Later this year, we will be ready to support others headsets. We will be making some announcement in the very near future. They will include big name vendors and local manufacturers in China. Our wireless technology can support nearly all the HMDs on the market.
VRCircle: So essentially, the underlying technology does not change. Just the connection to the headset. Is that correct?
Michael Liu: Exactly, our current technology can support 2k resolution @ 90hz HMDs. We are an FPGA solution which is programmable, meaning we can tweak it for the different resolutions or refresh rates.
NOTE: FPGA is Field-programmable gate array, which means it is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturing.
VRCircle: Is there anything you would like for me to share with my readers? Many are very excited about ridding their lives of a VR Cable!
Michael Liu: We want to be the best on the market and help the VR industry move away from being tethered. We want to bring freedom to the users. We are coming!
One more thing, we are working on the next generation wireless technology. We are working on supporting 3K and 4K HMDs. We will be announcing something in the later half of this year.
VRCircle: Will this be new hardware or can the existing TPCast device be updated?
Michael Liu: The hardware will be upgraded, definitely different.
VRCircle: If customers buy the 2k version now, will they be able to upgrade or need to buy the new version for 3K or 4K?
Michael Liu: No, the product will be all new.