Meta Quest 2: Air-Link dongle comes with cloud streaming - report
Meta's Air-Link dongle could stream content directly from Meta's VR cloud in addition to PC VR streaming.
In April, hints of a Meta Wireless Dongle for Meta Quest 2 surfaced. The accessory is supposed to make it easier to set up Air Link, making PC VR streaming accessible to the masses.
Plug the dongle into a compatible USB port on the gaming computer and you have a high-quality transmitter that streams PC VR content to the VR headset without any prior network configuration.
Driver references for the accessory discovered in the Quest code indicate that Meta does not manufacture the hardware itself. Instead, it uses an existing wireless dongle from D-Link that supports Wi-Fi 6 and works well with Air Link according to user reports.
Two weeks later, a user manual surfaced that confirmed the earlier findings and speculations. It describes a USB dongle called "VR Air Bridge" that comes with an extension cable and a stand for optimal line-of-sight placement with the VR headset.
USB dongle could have dual function
VR analyst Brad Lynch now also confirms that Meta is planning to launch a wireless dongle codenamed Ari. As expected, this is a USB accessory from D-Link that is marketed as a Meta product. It supports IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) and connects to the VR headset via a 5 GHz band.
Meta will be releasing a product, codenamed Ari, with D-Link under the "Made from Meta" product line
It uses the CloudVR/Avalanche software for AirLink. The majority of the code launched with v42/v43, but due to serious issues they postponed the hardware ship date to v44 (1/2)
- Brad Lynch (@SadlyItsBradley) August 25, 2022
What's new about Lynch's report is that the USB dongle could use Meta's Cloud VR and Avalanche software, meaning it would offer cloud streaming. In this mode, the computer would also have to be connected to the router via an Ethernet cable, Lynch writes. A local computer would still be required - of course, the USB dongle would have to be plugged in somewhere.
If Lynch's source is correct, Meta could offer cloud streaming sooner than thought, or at least already be experimenting with it in homes. The accessories could be on the market as early as in the next few months.
VR cloud streaming as an experimental Quest feature?
Cloud streaming offers enormous potential for virtual reality by combining mobile standalone headsets with the power of a high-performance computer. This enables larger and more believable game worlds and new application scenarios, especially for people without a powerful gaming PC.
In the spring, hints surfaced that Meta was testing a VR cloud streaming service called Avalanche. A Quest user had gained access to the service - probably by mistake - for a short time and was able to play a PC VR game via the cloud.
Lynch's sources said Meta wants to invest in improving its infrastructure first before launching. Presumably to that end, Meta is currently working with the second-largest U.S. carrier, Verizon, to explore the potential of the U.S. 5G network.
Jason Rubin, Meta's CEO, said two years ago that cloud streaming was not expected before 2025. But that doesn't mean cloud streaming couldn't be introduced early as an experimental feature.