Wi-Fi 7 Launches Promising “near-zero” Latency for Wireless VR

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced today that Wi-Fi 7 Certified products are ready to hit the market. The latest version of the Wi-Fi standard promises the possibility of “near-zero” latency for real-time applications like wireless VR streaming.

The Wi-Fi Alliance (the organization that maintains and develops the Wi-Fi standard) announced today that applicable products can officially be “Wi-Fi 7 Certified” and be sold as such.

The Wi-Fi 7 (AKA 802.11.be) spec delivers the usual improvements you’d expect, like improved speed and transmission, but the Alliance also calls out latency improvements for wireless VR use-cases like using Steam Link on Quest.

Specifically the group says the Multi-Link Operation (MLO) and Simultaneous Transmission and Reception (STR) features are claimed to support “near-zero latency” which would benefit to wireless VR.

MLO allows Wi-Fi 7 devices to connect to multiple bands (ie: 2.4Ghz, 5Ghz, 6Ghz) at the same time for increased throughput and reliability. STR, a component of MLO, allows Wi-Fi 7 devices to send and receive data simultaneously across those difference bands.

Conceivably a wireless VR headset could receive a high-throughput video stream on the 6GHz band while simultaneously transmitting its own tracking information on the 5GHz band to minimize latency.

The Wi-Fi Alliance also says Wi-Fi 7 allows for “deterministic latency,” which could allow wireless VR to better handle situations where there is latency. Knowing what how much latency is in the overall pipeline makes it easier to predict the headset’s position, reducing apparent latency.

However, even if “near-zero latency” pans out to be true in practice, this doesn’t mean a completely latency-free VR experience, simply because the latency introduced by Wi-Fi  transmission is only a fraction of the overall latency pipeline. There’s still the latency from rendering, encoding, decoding, and device-dependent latency.