What you need to know
- A new patent from Valve for a wireless head-mounted display means they're working on an in-house wireless VR solution.
- This patent is dated July 30, 2020, and could mean that the wireless Valve Index will finally happen.
- It's not known if this is an entirely new wireless VR HMD or an adapter for the existing Valve Index.
Ever since it's release late last June, the Valve Index has been the VR headset to get if you want the highest-end VR experience. But despite its ultra-high refresh rate display, its ground-breaking controllers, and those fancy over-the-ear headphones, the Valve Index packs in one thing no one in the VR space wants: a cord. That looks like it's finally set to change with a new patent from Valve simply titled "WIRELESS DATA TRANSPORT SYSTEM FOR HEAD-MOUNTED DISPLAYS".
Curiously enough, the patent (pictured below) shows a player using a wireless VR HMD with HTC Vive controllers rather than Valve's own Index controllers. Patent diagrams almost never represent the final product and are generally used to highlight the functions and capabilities of a product, though, so while it's bizarre to see HTC Vive wands in the player's hands, it doesn't mean all that much. The patent, of course, uses lots of technical jargon to describe "an antenna array that is selectively configurable to provide a plurality of beamforming patterns". Breaking it down a bit, that sounds a lot like high-frequency tech used in 5G antennas as well as the HTC Vive wireless adapters.
While the patent describes how the wireless Index will communicate with the base station in pretty fine detail, it skirts around the topic of whether or not this is a brand new headset or just an adapter for the existing Valve Index. Given the fact that the Valve Index is a modular VR headset with support for plug-in modules on the front, as well as a replaceable cable, it's highly likely that this is just an adapter for the existing headset. That's certainly something that will make any owner of Valve's $1,000 VR HMD happy.
Since this is a patent, there's no word on release date or price of such a module. Patents are filed on a regular basis and, sometimes, actual products never materialize from said patents. While we don't want to dash anyone's hopes, especially given that Valve is a major player in the PC VR industry, there's always a possibility that a wireless Valve Index may never appear. With that said, however, it would be a bit odd to see Valve pushing every other technical boundary with the Index and not eventually deploy a wireless solution.