Valve Job Listing Confirms a New Virtual Reality Headset
Valve has published a new job listing that talks of a “prototype, ship, and support” for a virtual reality headset that has advanced tracking features.
The listing says the company is searching for “versatile, self-directed software engineers in computer vision” that will assist the company in its “next steps in VR” for millions of consumers from across the world.
According to the listing, the position’s main scope will be “to prototype, ship, and support” consumer gaming products that leverage “visual-inertial tracking” for HMD and controllers, environment understanding, camera passthrough, eye tracking, and hand tracking functionalities.
Valve has a superb VR headset in the tethered $999 Valve Index headset but it has now been in the market for over three years. The Valve Index headset still offers the best-in-class tracking functions and audio quality. However, it has 1600 x 1440 per eye resolution which has since been overtaken by low-cost VR headsets such as the Meta Quest 2 and Pico 4 headsets. The Valve Index also does not support wireless play. There is a startup that is building an adapter, though.
Valve CEO Gabe Newell revealed in a talk in May last year that the company would be “making big investments in new headsets.” In August 2021, Valve product designer Greg Coomer told The Verge that the Steam Deck chip is “very relevant” to the company’s future plans.
In February 2022, following the commencement of Steam Deck shipping, Newell talked of virtual reality in various media interviews. Newell also told Edge Magazine that Valve’s Steam Deck featured a “battery-capable, high-performance horsepower” that the company might deploy in virtual reality applications. He noted that Valve wasn’t there yet but that Steam Deck was a stepping stone.
In a discussion of Steam Deck’s technology with Eurogamer, Newell mused that this could be had in a “tetherless integrated VR solution”.
In late 2021, YouTuber and XR hardware analyst Brad Lynch found evidence of a new Valve headset inside the code of SteamVR driver files. The code revealed a headset codenamed ‘Deckard’ which is also the surname of the protagonist in Blade Runner. The existence of the Deckard headset was also reportedly confirmed by Ars Technica sources.
Four months ago, a Valve patent went public which might have indicated the design of the strap in the Deckard headset. However, the patent didn’t provide any technical details.
There are some details about the headset that can be gleaned from the job posting. For instance, it suggests that the Deckard headset will likely have features such as passthrough, hand tracking, eye tracking, controller tracking, and scene understanding.
The presence of passthrough functionality and scene understanding shows that the headset could support mixed reality functions. However, this may also just be only an evolution of SteamVR’s Chaperone safety boundary system.
Should the Deckard headset ship soon, it will likely compete with the Meta Quest Pro headset set to be announced today.