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How to Extend Range and Connect a VR Headset to a Computer in Another Room?

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Extending the wires of the HTC Vive

The cables on the HTC Vive don’t usually get in the way when you’re playing a game in a reasonable space. The problems arise when you want to either play in a very large area, using multiple Vives, or in a different room from the one in which your PC is sited. Both can be serious issues, since the cable on the HTC Vive is 15 feet long – quite a decent length actually, but short if you want to extend the distance from your computer for any reason.

I already mentioned that the cable tends to fall short in a large room. It can also fall short if you want to get the cables out of the way in a very active VR game, by suspending them from the ceiling. Didn’t know this was possible? Check out this great cable-management system.

Ordinary extensions to the cable cause lag…

It’s important to know that the cables that connect the PC to the VR Headset can’t be extended in an ordinary manner, or you might experience lag. This is actually caused by the long cable delaying transmissions! The lag can become even more pronounced if you have a ‘LAN extension box’ along the way – and if you want to extend the cables in the ordinary manner, it’s likely that you might have to have several. That won’t work, and will ruin your playing experience.

Lag from cable extensions

Is it possible to solve the issue, and have perfect, no-lag transmissions with a cable that is just as long as you need? Of course, but to do so, you have to use special cables designed to reduce lag in transmission, and extend the LAN using a special method that bypasses the usual LAN system.

Confused?

Don’t be. I’ll be explaining the process step-by-step. It’s easy! First of all, here’s a little diagram of how the connections to the HTC VR Headset work…

Extending the wires of the HTC Vive

Extending the reach of an HTC Vive’s cables up to 50 feet.

This isn’t too difficult. Actually, the HDMI cable that links the VR headset to the link box is the sort that doesn’t transmit efficiently over 20 feet. But there are special cables that can do this, called ‘Active HDMI cables’.

Active HDMI cableHere’s where you can get a 30 foot long active cable on Amazon. Need more length? Here’s where you can get a 50 foot cable. These can extend the reach of headset-link box link-up to up to 50 feet. So that’s one problem solved. Do bear in mind that one end of the cable is the source, and needs to be connected only to the link box, with the other end at the helmet. The cable cannot be used in reverse.

What if I need the cable to go more than 50 feet?

Alright, so that could happen. What if your computer’s in another room? What with the necessity to have a cable long enough to move around in VR, even 50 feet of high-speed cable may not be sufficient.

To extend this further, you need to extend the USB.

However, this isn’t easy, as USB is a slow-transfer system. To make it a ‘fast-transfer’ system, you’re going to have to replace it with something else.

For this, you’ll need a pair of USB-Ethernet repeaters.

These will bypass the problem of a lengthy USB cable not being able to handle the volumes of data transfer that VR requires. Here’s where you can get the USB-Ethernet repeaters. And you’ll need a high-speed cable to go along with that, of course. Plug these in, and you’re set to go, and you have a vastly increased range, and no lag.

USB Ethernet repeaters

Now you can not only use your VR headset in another room from your PC, but you have more than enough space to move around in that room, and you can suspend them from the ceiling to get them out of your way.

You have the best of all possible worlds…  in VR.

Fall in Love VR – Pure Hype, or great ‘NPC’ characters?

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fall-in-love-vr-experience

Falling in love has always been a subtle experience that is difficult to define. But Fall in Love VR, a new virtual reality experience, may just be the first step to defining how exactly we fall in love – while also giving us the opportunity to fall in love in Virtual Reality.

Fall in Love VR allows you to explore the actual mechanics of falling in love, to learn how emotional connections are formed, and to understand love itself better. Though the ‘people’ you encounter in Fall in Love VR aren’t real, they do feel interestingly alive, and the conversations you have with them certainly generate a connection.

How does it work?

Quite simply, actually. The three-dimensional characters you see in Fall in Love VR are actors. There’s a set of questions you can ask them – deeply personal questions, and they reply. The technology is actually state of the art, using natural language processing, allowing you to ask the questions naturally, in your own voice – the system understands your question, and the virtual character replies.

Here’s how the app markets itself…

Hmm, that sounds really good. Could I really take a chosen character home with me? I’m sorry sir, but that isn’t possible – didn’t you read the fine print?

So, seriously – how doesn’t it work?

Well, there are only 36 questions. You can ask those questions. Yes, the questions are well selected. But you can’t stray beyond them. It makes sense – no A.I. could handle it, not yet at least. But as far as this goes, something similar is done every day in RPG games around the world. You have NPCs (Non Player Characters) that you can interact with in the same manner – I’ve seen games where you have long conversations about life, philosophy, the character’s own ‘history’ – even, yes, falling in love. These conversations go far, far beyond anything Fall in Love even dreams of achieving. And RPG games this complex have been around for more than a decade, if not more.

If you want to try a traditional RPG with all those ‘conversations’ elements, Pillars of Eternity is a fascinating. It features a lot of brilliant characters you get to know and feel for.

Pillars of eternity

So what does Fall in Love VR get right?

It does take the conversations to another level. Sure, the characters have been filmed in gorgeous stereoscopic video from real people, which gives them a realism that no 3D game character today can have. Sure, you use your own voice to ask the questions, which makes everything feel more natural. But in the end, it really doesn’t do much more than RPG games have done for years.

It does much less!

Most RPG games have long conversation trees, and the conversation between the NPC and the player evolves over time, becomes deeper, more meaningful. This is the least that the makers of Fall in Love VR could have aimed for. Because otherwise Fall in Love VR is no more than a demo of possibilities.

Fall in Love VR has been demonstrated in many places, and people watching it seem to be impressed.

That’s not the real question though.

The real question is, ‘Are the people testing this people who play RPG games?’ – because those are the people who are really knowledgeable about the sort of thing the makers of Fall in Love VR are attempting.

And I have the feeling the reaction of most RPG players would be, ‘Sure, that’s interesting – even pretty cool. But nothing I haven’t seen before a thousand times.’

Sexy RPG Game Character - Fall in Love VR
And she hasn’t even been modded yet!

Oh how about this reaction from an RPG veteran? ‘The girls in Fall in Love VR – that Maya Donavan and Grace Van Dien – they make cool NPCs. Could I have them in 3D in my favourite game?’

For example, the characters from Fall in Love VR would be great in the new Skyrim VR, which brings all the power of Virtual Reality to bear on one of the RPG classics. Skyrim VR is on pre-order on Amazon NOW, due to release on the 17th of November.

It goes great with the PlayStation 4’s VR system.

As a matter of fact, there’s actually a ‘Skyrim VR’ bundle on offer, which includes the headset and two PlayStation Move Controllers, as well as the PlayStation Camera, and, of course, the game itself. If you’re a PlayStation RPG enthusiast, this is the game that best represents the VR role-playing of the future… today. And yes, you can get married in the game!

Here’s How to Watch 360 Degree YouTube Videos in Vive

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Vive Video - Watch Youtube 360 videos in Vive

Watching 360 degree videos on the HTC Vive can be a wonderfully interesting experience, and one that is certainly recommended. There was a time when there weren’t that many 360 degree videos available, but times have changed.

What’s changed is that now there are a lot of 360 degree cameras on the market. There’s the Gear 360, that you can carry around anywhere, and small enough to – almost – fit into the palm of your hand. Cameras like the Gear 360 allow people around the world to effortlessly make 360 degree videos… of anything they choose. And they do – there’s a whole new culture of amateur movie-making beginning to evolve around 360 degree videos.

So you’ll find lots of videos of different kinds on YouTube. There are videos of wonderful panoramas, of nature, of historical sites, of people jumping off aircraft (with parachutes), of people bungee jumping (without parachutes, and sometimes they regret it, but not on video).

And they’re all on YouTube

Actually, they’re on a lot of places beside YouTube, but YouTube is a great source. So if you have a lovely 3D headset like the HTC Vive, you can watch these videos as they should be watched, in wonderful stereoscopic high resolution. The HTC Vive brings Virtual Reality videos as close to reality as they’re likely to get.

Using Vive Video

The simplest – though not necessarily the best – way to watch 360 degree videos is through Vive Video. This is a dedicated video player that HTC has come up with, and while it may have been created by one company, it has been designed to work across multiple VR headsets, which means that the Oculus Rift can also support it. And HTC distributes it for free. You can find it on Viveport, but it can also be downloaded on Steam.

One nice thing about Vive Video is that, in keeping with HTC’s policy, it has been entirely designed around letting you use HTC motion controllers inside the video. It goes without saying that it can be used with a keyboard or mouse, but the motion controllers really allow for a very relaxed and intuitive experience.

Vive-Video-Screenshot

Vive Video can only play files that are located on your computer

If you want to watch videos directly off YouTube, you’ll need a paid app. We’ll talk about that later. For now, just download the videos you want to watch from YouTube using any one of a number of apps that are available. Then find the video in Vive Video, and click on the file. The file will begin to play, but not in 360 degrees.

To do that, you’ll need to, using the ‘eye’ icon that you’ll find in the controls bar (take a look at the image above), select the Viewing Mode. You’ll have to select whether the video is Mono or Stereo, depending on whether it’s a normal 360 degree video or a stereoscopic (a true 3D) one. Once you click on your choice, other options will appear, in which you have to select ‘360’. That’s it, you’re set and you’re good to go. This is a good way to watch 360 degree videos on the Vive – it’s free, and it’s by HTC themselves.

However, if you don’t find this intuitive enough, there are paid apps on the market as well.

Virtual Desktop – Streaming 360 degree VR video directly from YouTube

Virtual Desktop is a good app, if you’re interested in a smooth, streamlined app that will play your 3D videos effortlessly, directly from a YouTube URL. Yes, all you have to do is paste in the URL, and Virtual Desktop will start streaming the video, with most of the video options already set.