Intel shows off what the future of Wi-Fi 6 means for VR and gaming

Intel Wi-Fi 6If there was any single technology that we absolutely rely on in our homes, it would be Wi-Fi. We all have a lot of devices that connect to our Wi-Fi networks, with laptops, tablets, and phones being the most common. But, today we’ve got so much more dependent on our in-home networks, like smart speakers, thermostats, and more.

Even with all of these changes in the way we use Wi-Fi, the biggest complication in Wi-Fi is the addition of high-use devices, such as virtual reality and augmented reality hardware. Standalone hardware like this, which gets its video feed over the network as opposed to being plugged in directly to a computer move a tremendous amount of data over the network. By using this hardware, you can stress your network to the point where other devices, including the computer pushing the video, can experience massive lag.

Fortunately, the next generation of Wi-Fi is almost here. With the reveal of this new technology, running on the 802.11ax standard, we get a much needed new naming convention. Rather than being known by their technological standard, as they always have, the new standard will be generational. The new generation will be known as Wi-Fi 6, with 802.11n becoming Wi-Fi 4 and 802.11ac becoming Wi-Fi 5. The biggest change in Wi-Fi 6 will be a huge increase in stability when stressed.

As evidence, Intel gave us a demo of their Wi-Fi 6 prototype hardware powering a complete virtual reality setup. That included the laptop that was rendering the video and the headset that was controlling it. Having gotten to experience the VR myself, I can confirm that there was never a moment of lag. The video was smooth from start to finish, and all of the controls were responsive. Based on this experience, Wi-Fi 6 is going to be a huge improvement for VR, but also for standard gaming, streaming and more.

Intel expects PCs and routers to begin shipping with Wi-Fi 6 in the first half of 2019.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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