Until wireless versions of HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets are here to stay, VR enthusiasts must put up with a long cable that is generally a nuisance that wants to wreck your immersion. Sure, you can deal with the cable by stepping over it and keeping track of how many times you've spun around, but you can also look for a solution. Why not suspend it above you?
Problems with getting your VR cable off the floor
We've written in the past about tips and tricks to keep from stepping all over your VR cables. Solutions included clipping the head-mounted display (HMD) cable to your belt, having someone else hold the cable for you, investing in a pricey VR boom, and using a set of static hooks to hang the cable from the ceiling. Each of these solutions present their own problems.
Attaching the cable directly to the ceiling usually involves purchasing separate extension cables in order to reach up to your ceiling and back down to your head, and this adds some unnecessary weight that pulls the HMD out of place and wrecks the perfect fit you took time to achieve.
That extra bit of cable also has a tendency to wrap around your arms and shoulders when you're spinning around often, like in the game Holopoint. So where do we go from here?
A VR cable solution that's proving effective
How do we solve the problem of too much slack in the line that ultimately ends up in a twisted, tangled mess? Thanks to Midwec, there's now a relatively cheap solution to the problem.
For about $20, you can get a six-pack of retractable cables that come with their own hooks and adhesive. These are a third-generation version of the product, and they have improved quite a bit since the first version.
The flat hooks that adhere to the ceiling are clear so that you can unhook the system and not have noticeable squares above you, and each retractable cable has a carabiner on the end of it to allow for easy cable hookup. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes to set up, and after that, you shouldn't have to worry about tripping over cables. When you need to run to the corner of your VR space, the hooks let out some line, and when you run back to the middle of your space, they retract to keep the cable out of your way.
This product isn't perfect, but it's a great stand-in until wireless headsets are here to stay. One problem we foresee is with acoustic ceilings (those covered in popcorn stucco) and how the hooks will have a hard time adhering. Likewise, if you have a flat painted ceiling, removing the hooks might pull off some paint.
The carabiners that hold your VR cable in place shouldn't do any damage to it, but you can always grab some cheap split-loom tubing and create a cover. For about $20, you can grab 100 feet of the stuff.
Other mounting options
If you'd rather go with a different set of retractable cables, there are a number of other manufacturers putting out just about the same product.
KIWI VR cable management
This system from KIWI (about $23) is quite versatile, offering up six pulleys, six adhesive pads, six screw hooks and wall anchors, and rubber cable clips that prevent slipping. Whether you're attaching to a flat ceiling, stucco ceiling, or just about anything else, you should be able to get things set up in a short amount of time.
Hyperkin VR cable management
Much like the Midwec cable system, this option from Hyperkin (about $23) comes with six pulleys, six adhesive pad mounts, and carabiners for quick cable attachment. If you have a flat ceiling, these will work great and will match up with Hyperkin's other great VR accessories.
What does your cable setup look like?
Have you taken the time to create a suspended cable system? How does it work? Have you used these retractable hooks? Let us know!
Updated July 12, 2018: I've added a few new buying options to the list to ensure you're still getting the best ways to keep your VR cable off the floor.