Nvidia, Oculus, Microsoft, AMD and Valve agree on new one-cable USB-C VR standard

The most annoying cable tangles in VR could finally be going away, thanks to VirtualLink.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
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A tangle of cables to hook up a VR headset could shrink down a single USB-C connection, thanks to a new open industry standard created by most of the major players in the PC VR space.

A new VirtualLink open specification, announced today, looks like a big improvement on the current multi-USB-and-HDMI system of hooking up VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive to PCs. The spec supports four separate high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes, a USB3.1 channel for cameras and sensors in future headsets with self-contained tracking, and 27 watts of power.

The VirtualLink Consortium that agreed upon the standard includes Nvidia, Valve, Oculus, AMD and Microsoft, covering the bases on all the major hardware manufacturers in the PC VR space. The standard also looks powerful enough to handle future mixed reality platforms.

Going through one USB-C port could also mean supporting smaller laptops and PCs, a likely direction considering that self-contained mobile VR headsets are on the rise. Nvidia references thin-and-light laptops in the announcement, but tablets and small-scale NUC PCs could also be a focus. 

Maybe, with a single USB-C connection, future VR PCs could also be a lot more wearable than this.