How I streamlined my VR setup to get more use out of it

One of the biggest barriers to using VR regularly is setup time. Every time I wanted to use my VR headset, I had to go through some infuriating setup steps, including clearing the play space in my office, covering the glass cabinet to avoid Lighthouse Tracker reflections, starting SteamVR, and so on. And this included running any required updates. The game I wanted to play. Of course, when I was finished, I had to put it away again. It turned out to be a chore, and resulted in less diving into SteamVR’s virtual world than I wanted to.

In an effort to change this, I went on a campaign to streamline my VR setup so that it was easier to get into and faster to get out of. The idea was to make virtual reality as easy to use as I flopped in my gaming chair for standard desktop gaming. After a few weeks of upgrading and adjusting, I’m happy to report that I’ve almost managed it.

HTC Vive Pro Review
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

wireless makes a difference

There’s a reason the latest headsets from most major VR manufacturers are wireless. This makes a huge difference to virtual world immersion, as you don’t have that regular reminder of when to brush against the cable or come up short against the end of its length. While not all PC VR headsets support wireless virtual reality, the Vive Pro does – and I own just one.

The wireless adapter isn’t cheap, but I was lucky enough to have one lying around from my old HTC Vive headset. What I didn’t have was the Vive Pro Adapter Kit, which isn’t cheap at around $75 for a small cable and headband pad, but in my case it was well worth the expense.

Even with my basically limited playing space, being wireless made a big difference. Not only was it meant to remind me that I was actually sitting or standing in an office and not on a synthwave-inspired ceiling, but it also cut down on massive setups and teardowns. All those cables can be packed away, making for a cleaner, more accessible VR playspace.

It’s much easier to grab the headset and controllers from the wall and start playing than it is to untangle several meters of cable.

Room-sized space with dedicated PC

SteamVR Roomscale Setup Instructions.

Having a room-scale area to play a virtual reality game is a real luxury and something I’ve longed for since my early days experimenting with the medium. (Room-scale is a design model for VR experiences that lets users freely move around the play area in a VR environment with their real-life motion.) One way to do this is by untethering your headset from your PC. A real opportunity presented itself. While I looked at ways to extend the length of the wireless receiver to extend my office PC to the living room, I ultimately settled on the nuclear option: building a dedicated VR PC.

I appreciate that this is something most people can’t do, but if like me, you’ve recently upgraded your main gaming rig, you likely have some components missing. Virtual reality isn’t as demanding on modern gaming PCs as it once was — especially if you’re playing on an old, low-resolution headset like mine — so it might be more affordable to build a VR gaming PC than you think.

Eventually, I built a Ryzen 3700X-based, Mini-ITX gaming PC in my living room, permanently installed the wireless transmitter and Lighthouse sensor in feasible positions, and matched cords to the wall color to hide the wires. cover was used.

However, this in itself was not sufficient. While the room-scale space was great to play in, and having a permanent setup meant fewer startup and teardown steps each time I played, it still took a while to get going. I had to turn on the PC, log in, start the SteamVR and Vive Wireless apps, turn on the Lighthouse trackers… it was all still frustratingly slow.

So I made some more changes.

remote power for sensor

Remote Power Outlet.
BN Link

I was able to shave a good 30 seconds off my VR gaming startup time by installing a remote-controlled power outlet for the Lighthouse trackers. That way I don’t have to turn each one of them on by hand, and I can just press a few buttons on the remote – which I store with the headset – and they’re up and running. Shutting them down is just as quick.

I haven’t switched the PC on startup remotely, but this may be a way to further improve this setup in the future.

Nearby Storage and Chargers

For the final step in improving the hardware side of my virtual reality setup, I found a storage solution nearby for the headset and its accessories. In my case, it was in under-seat storage in my couch, which has plenty of room for a headset, battery, controller and driver updates, and similar wireless keyboards.

In that place, I also installed a high-wattage, multi-USB-A charger, and some short USB-C and Micro-USB cables for charging the headset’s battery and controllers. That way, whenever I come over to play, they’re fully charged and ready to go.

screen-less startup

The next big drag on the VR startup process was interacting with the PC itself. Can I reduce it or even eliminate it completely?

First, I removed the login password from my account – here’s how I did it in Windows 10, but you can remove your password on Windows 11 as well. I then went a step further and completely removed the login screen by making a few registry tweaks, and set both the Vive Wireless and Steam VR apps to start up with Windows 10.

Now I have a dedicated VR PC that boots all the way to Windows and starts all the apps it needs without me having to do anything. That means keeping the TV off and the keyboard in storage. I can power on the PC and headset, wait 30 seconds, and the headset is on and running with SteamVR booted up and ready to play.

make sure everything is up to date

To make sure the VR PC’s software and games are all up to date when I use them, I sometimes pop the PC on at random times when I’m not playing it so it can carry out any necessary updates Could Since Steam starts with PC, I know it’ll get any updates it needs, and the game will be ready for me the next time I go to play something in VR.

If you want to take more manual control of this process, you can. You can log into your Steam account online, or use the mobile app to manage your game library. If that PC is on and logged into Steam, you can download games to it, install updates, or even buy and download new games to get ready for your next game.

Thrill of Fight gameplay screenshot.
The thrill of the fight is still the most demanding VR workout I’ve ever done. A few rounds with Duke will have you sweating immediately.

add it to workouts

With the hardware and software taken care of, it was time to consider the wetware: How can I get myself to use VR more? Many people have found using it for exercise a great way to integrate VR into their daily lives. It’s something I’d only dabbled with in the past, but with a new playspace and more drive to use VR than I ever had, I put together a solid workout routine entirely in VR.

It turns out, exercising can be a lot more fun when it’s a game. are playing hit the saber, synth ridersor more demanding games like hot squat 2 either Super hot, can be great equipment for exercise or a fun warm-up. I’ve also spent a good hour boxing eyed opponents thrill of fightingand found it as intense as some real life fights.

By giving myself some set amount of time to use the VR setup each week, it made it more familiar, and gave me more opportunities to use it. As a result, I used it more outside of those workouts as well.

can i make it better?

Vive Pro Eye CES 2019
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

I have thoroughly enjoyed this journey of improving the accessibility of my aging VR setup. While the hardware is a few years old, I think I’ve created quite a premium VR experience by combining the ease of use of a standalone headset with high-end visuals only on a powerful gaming desktop.

I still have more ideas to try. Remote power on for the PC would save me the precious seconds it would take to walk up to the chassis and press the power button. The Valve Index controller would be a nice upgrade to the Vive Pro’s older wand design, and anyone who does heavy workouts in VR knows that cooling can always be better. I can also install a blind on the living room mirror so I don’t have to put a blanket over it.

Even if I don’t manage to make those last few changes, though, it’s clear from my experience with VR Streamlining that access remains a major barrier to virtual reality. That’s why Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is driving his company on a quest to make it a little easier to use. Don’t think you have to have a Facebook account to have an easy-to-use VR setup. PC VR can even be nearly seamless if you tweak around the edges.

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