Valve, a prominent player in the world of virtual reality (VR), recently dropped some intriguing hints about its future plans for VR in an interview centered around the Steam Deck OLED. In this article, we delve into the key takeaways from this interview, shedding light on Valve's vision for the next generation of VR.
Steam Deck OLED: A Glimpse into Valve's Commitment to Innovation
The Steam Deck OLED, unveiled as a mid-generation refresh of the original Steam Deck, has generated significant buzz in the gaming community. Among its noteworthy upgrades are a larger High Dynamic Range (HDR) OLED display boasting a 90Hz refresh rate, Wi-Fi 6E support, enhanced cooling capabilities, and an extended battery life, courtesy of the 6nm APU revision and a larger battery.
While the Steam Deck has undoubtedly been Valve's focus in recent years, the company's legacy in VR technology remains undeniable. Valve's Index tethered PC VR kit, however, is now over four years old, and its resolution has become outdated in comparison to contemporary standards. Although Valve has repeatedly confirmed its work on a new VR headset, no specific product has been officially announced or teased as of yet.
Clues from the Interview: What to Expect from Valve's Future VR Endeavors
In a recent interview with Norm from Tested, Valve's hardware engineer, Yazan Aldehayyat, and product designer, Lawrence Yang, provided hints regarding the direction Valve might take with its upcoming VR headset and a potential key feature.
When asked about how the insights gained from the Steam Deck's development could influence VR hardware, Yang emphasized the importance of their learnings. He stated, "A lot of it. Working with an APU, with miniaturization of computers - we don't have anything to announce today in terms of VR other than that we are still working on VR and we're still pushing forward on it. But just like Steam Deck is a result of learning a bunch of stuff from [Steam] Controller and [Steam] Link and VR, future products will continue to learn from everything we've done with Steam Deck as well."
Aldehayyat further elaborated on this by highlighting the overlap in technology and shared innovations between different projects. He mentioned that wireless streaming, which has proven beneficial for the Steam Deck, could also find applications in VR. Aldehayyat noted that the collaboration between the Steam Deck and VR teams facilitates the exchange of ideas, components, and technologies.
OLED and Wireless Streaming: Key Clues About Valve's Next VR Headset
One significant takeaway from the interview is Valve's commitment to wireless streaming. Aldehayyat's comments strongly suggest that Valve's forthcoming VR headset will support wireless PC VR experiences. Users might have the flexibility to utilize their existing home Wi-Fi networks, similar to Virtual Desktop and Air Link on the Oculus Quest, or Valve might explore dedicated hardware adapters to ensure a seamless and high-quality wireless VR experience. While Valve's primary focus will likely be on PC VR, there are indications that the company is exploring options for a consolized PC or a more potent Steam Deck 2 capable of independent PC VR streaming.
Moreover, Yang's remarks about "working with an APU" and "miniaturization of computers" suggest that Valve's upcoming headset may offer some form of standalone functionality. This implies that Valve is considering a wireless headset for both PC and standalone use. While a purely PC-dependent VR headset wouldn't necessitate a full APU, Valve's President, Gabe Newell, has previously mentioned the company's exploration of "tetherless integrated VR" and a "transportable" headset. It's important to note that Newell has acknowledged that these concepts are still in development.
A Clearer Picture from Valve's Job Listing
In a job listing posted last year, Valve provided further insights into its VR ambitions. The listing sought a computer vision engineer to work on a VR headset designed for "millions of customers worldwide." The headset was described as featuring inside-out tracking, camera passthrough, environment understanding, eye tracking, and hand tracking. While these features may evolve during development or the product's future, they offer valuable glimpses into Valve's vision for the next generation of VR.
As Valve continues to push the boundaries of VR technology, enthusiasts and gamers alike eagerly anticipate the company's next VR headset. While specific details remain under wraps, the clues and insights provided by Valve engineers hint at exciting developments on the horizon. As Valve's commitment to innovation remains steadfast, the future of VR promises to be filled with groundbreaking experiences.