Valve today teased its very own VR headset; revealed without a notice, the headset is named Index and will supposedly be in the hands of consumers by May later this year.
As can be seen in the image above – which is all Valve has shown so far –, physical IPD adjustment is presumably present, a notable exclusion on the new Oculus Rift S. That’s an important feature, as Oculus founder Palmar Luckey explained in his rant about the Rift S.
Interestingly, the Index appears to have cameras embedded within. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the headset will rely on inside-out tracking. After all, the HTC Vive also comes with cameras, but to render a chaperone of the real world in the virtual environment. Valve’s lighthouses – which it has improved since the original launch – provide superior tracking, though inside-out tracking would be far more convenient. Valve could be using a combination of the two technologies or giving an option to use either.
Valve has also been working on a new set of VR controllers, called the Knuckles. These were originally revealed at Steam Dev Days in 2016, but they appear to have changed drastically since then. In a recent video, the folks at Node Studios demoed their new VR game, Boneworks, using the new Knuckles controllers.
Knuckles will feature finger tracking, and at least in the video by Node Studios, appear to be working with the HTC Vive – meaning that they work with lighthouse tracking.
Index’s rather more important specifications, like the display resolution and field-of-view (FoV) offered by the lens design, remain eluded from us for the time being. Though, as far as rumors are concerned, it will apparently feature a 135° FoV.
Gabe Newell of Valve said last year that Valve has been jealous of Nintendo due to the latter’s ability to finely integrate both its software and hardware. Nintendo’s Labo Kit being a great demonstration of that.
Newell also said last year that Valve would, once again, develop and ship more of its own games soon. Erik Wolpaw, one of the writers who worked on Half-Life 2 Episode 1 and 2, Portal 1 and 2, and Left 4 Dead, rejoined Valve earlier this year as well.
It’s clear that a lot is going on within Valve. There is a big push to make Linux gaming seamless, and an overhaul for the Steam Library interface has recently been shown off as well. There’s also a new mobile app confirmed to be in development, along with several other new features and improvements for Steam.