When Valve announced the upcoming Steam Deck, the company also discussed the possibility of using the hand-held console’s APU in a standalone VR headset. Valve released its own VR headset, Valve Index, back in 2019. The VR headset is regarded as one of the most comfortable headsets that you can get right now. However, it seems like a successor to the company’s auspicious VR headset might already be in the works.
In an interview with The Verge during a hands-on preview of the Steam Deck, Greg Coomer, a Valve employee, said, “we’re not ready to say anything about it, but it would run well in that environment, with the TDP necessary… it’s very relevant to us and our future plans.” This indicates that Valve is certainly working on a new Valve Index VR headset for the future.
Fortunately, we have more than just the words of a Valve employee to speculate that a new Valve Index VR headset might be in the works. In February, Valve filed a few patents that were published yesterday for a VR headset that looks similar to the Valve Index. These patents were filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office under the name Valve Corporation. The descriptions of the patents also discuss the improvements that the company is making with their VR headset, so a successor to the Valve Index is basically confirmed.
Patent #: US20210247556
Patent #: US20210250570
Patent #: US20210247611
Patent #: US20210247612
Patent #: US20210247613
Patent #: US20210247614
Patent #: US20210247631
Patent #: US20210247646
Patent #: US20210247842
Patent #: US20210250476
These patents are rather interesting, as Patent #: US20210247613 and Patent #: US20210247631 are discussing active variations in optical polarization, both spatially and time-related. On the other hand, Patent #: US20210250570, Patent #: US20210247611 and Patent #: US20210250476 seem like the sort of technology that would be needed for inside-out tracking. Additionally, Patent #: US20210247614 is eye-position tracking, which is exactly what foveated rendering requires.
One of the patents also indicates that the small control panel [304/FIG. 3] may control various features of the HMD, such as the optical characteristics of the optical system to improve user experience and/or visual conditions. In an interview with IGN about the Steam Deck, Gabe Newell, the CEO of Valve, said, “With VR our expectation is it’s a very long haul, and that there are fundamentally important technologies that are being developed.” Hence, we can’t expect the successor to the Valve Index to release anytime soon.
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