Cord cutters unite. The virtual reality backpack is here.
This newly arrived horse to the VR sweepstakes race may very well be the best bet to win the entire virtual reality industry sweepstakes – in the long run, that is.
The Alienware VR Backpack Prototype
In the last few months, HP, MSI, Zotac, and Alienware have shown off functional prototypes of virtual reality backpacks, the newest twist on the rapidly emerging VR marketplace.
This new form & function VR platform packs a high end gaming PC with 90 to 120 minutes of accompanying hot-swappable battery power modules. This is complemented by a design that delivers a surprisingly comfortable 4-5 kg (8.8-11 lbs) wearable device that delivers a VR headset display experience equivalent to the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift.
Millions of Times More Freedom of X-Y-Z Movement
The VR backpack allows a VR user the ultimate in free-roaming movement in their physical space.
If you can walk 6.5km (10.5 miles) an hour with two hours of VR backpack battery life, your free-roaming VR movements could take you all the way across town or 13Km (21 miles) on one charge.
This might just translate into galactic sized distances in a corresponding VR game or entertainment worldspace imagined by the hundreds of software developers now vigorously working on desktop PC tethered VR titles right now.
The HP Omen VR Backpack
By way of contrast, the HTC Vive permits free-range, wire (a.k.a. cable) tethered roaming across a space constrained by 5m x 5m boundaries. The Oculus Rift tethers you to a floor space of approximately 1.5m x 1.5m. The Sony PlayStation VR bounds you to no more than two to three moderate steps of movement (if and only if you have the slack between you and your PlayStation 4 console).
If you’re into calculations, a 2-hour, 13km (21 Miles) physical trek across town equates to 6.76 million times the freedom of cable tethered X-Y movement that the HTC Vive offers, 75.1 million times that of the Oculus Rift, and an even higher than 75.1 million times distance expansion ratio vis a vis the Sony Playstation VR.
If you multiply this by the ability to physically move up or down in the vertical Z direction – up and down a skyscraper for vastly more efficient VR aided maintenance inspections and repairs, perhaps — the endless possibilities are left only to your imagination.
Now if you have a microfiber towel in your VR backpack and a water bottle holstered to that bad boy, who’s to know if you just walked across town or elevated yourself up a 100 story skyscraper maintenance lift. Imagine the experience to have VR trekked across the seeming bottomless ocean floor expanse of the Mariana Trench or the spreading mid-Atlantic ridge?
However, rather than explore the many valid reasons why one would not want to walk across town with a VR backpack, let’s assume that this distance expansion ratio example gives us a heuristic notion for how VR backpacks could radically change our future reality and improve the world we now know.
VR Backpacks In R&D Labs, Rapid Prototyping, Factories, Hospitals, Construction Sites, Classrooms, and More
The MSI Virtual Reality Backpack
Total freedom of X-Y movement via a VR backpack means that almost any floor space, ground space, research and development laboratory space, manufacturing space, hospital space, construction site space, retail store space, and classrooms of the future can benefit immensely by way of yet unimagined new applications and solutions to mankind’s toughest challenges and most promising opportunities.
It also means the ability to go vertical in the Z-space, in addition to the terrestrial X-Y plane. Indeed, with the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift, and the Sony PlayStation VR, you can’t walk up or down stairs or get in an elevator to promptly arrive at operating room 5B in time to perform a VR backpack & headset assisted mixed reality emergency triage surgery or even train for one in medical school.
The potential massive in theater liabilities of a surgeon tripping over his/her dangling VR cables might prevent VR and Mixed Reality (AR+VR) surgery from ever taking place.
It’s not fair to call the VR PC an anchor or the headset’s cable an anchor line, but that’s effectively what these current medium to high end VR systems are.
Cables of the HTC Vive
Where is the VR industry market size forecast — filled with all manner of dozens of descriptions of future VR application scenarios – that describes to today’s VR technology leaders and investors and consumers the huge market potential of VR backpack enabled industries and businesses other than gaming and entertainment? I can tell you where.
It does not yet exist!
In other words, the VR backpack introduces virtually unlimited new market applications across dozens of global industries and thousands of profitable solutions to mankind’s toughest challenges and most promising opportunities. And yet no one is really calling this out for everyone to ponder.
Not Moore’s Law, But . . .
This X-Y-Z freedom of movement distance expansion ratio for the VR industry is not the equivalent to Moore’s Law in integrated circuit lore. The global IT industry currently gets excited if 10x better scale and performance can be wrung out of today’s rather tired silicon integrated circuits technology base.
The VR backpack could offer 100x the runway for expansion of the IT industry across the board into almost every application imaginable.
To say it another way, it’s quite possible that the VR backpack innovation may have just tripled or quadrupled the eventual size of the global VR industry. Predicting circa 2020 and 2025 market size forecasts, VR backpacks that are tethered to today’s assumptions about cables dangling off your VR headset and dragging on the floor for you to possibly trip over, and always be conscious about, thus putting dozens of momentary sensual and mental dampers on the purity of your VR experience every hour.
No Magic Technology, Just Common Sense Design & Engineering
There is no magic here, no Houdini invisible wires. There is no CODEC grand slam in the 9th inning that efficiently compresses and decompressed the massive data transfer problem between the PC and the VR headset and display. The VR backpack is just the inevitable result of common sense industrial design and engineering.
Conveniently short wires (no more than 0.5meters long) from your VR headset to the ports at the top of the VR backpack strapped on your torso do the trick of transmitting the massive volumes of VR visual data processed by the VR backpack’s CPU and graphics processing unit (GPU).
Without any cables limiting a VR user’s range, constraining their agility, or potentially inducing equilibrium distortion and nausea due to the extra cable mass and drag friction off your head, the VR backpack offers the ultimate end game product concept in the VR industry.
Imagine the future half a decade or more ahead when all that processing power, battery life, cooling apparatus can be stuffed inside a headset that weighing less than 620 grams to avoid increasing the chances of VR nausea.
Upcoming Articles on VR Backpack Developments
In another VR backpack article, we’ll review how wireless communications technologies may play in the VR backpack equation and we’ll delve into the issue of all the technologies that need to be integrated into the nexgen VR backpacks and the ultimate standalone VR headset, sans backpack.
We’ll also give you overviews of the existing VR backpacks and explore which companies might be adding their names to the VR backpack industry list of developers.
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