Valve’s CEO Confirmed Work On New Headsets Ages Ago And We All Missed It

Valve CEO Gabe Newell made some comments back in May that went unnoticed until recently, confirming work on “new headsets and games” at Valve.

Newell gave a talk at the Sancta Maria College in New Zealand and fielded some questions from students. The talk was recorded and uploaded online, but the comments about new headsets only gained attention recently when YouTuber Brad Lynch reposted a clip from a recording to Twitter, embedded below.

 

His comments came in response to a question asking whether Newell thinks VR/AR technology will ever become a staple of the gaming industry.

Newell confirms that Valve is “making big investments in new headsets and games” but also feels that VR/AR is a stepping stone toward brain-computer interfaces.

Here’s his full response, transcribed from around the 14:00 mark of this video:

“There are interesting questions, which is: are things sort of stable end goals or are they transition points? My view, which is not in the accepted sort of middle ground, is that VR and AR are transition points towards brain-computer interfaces. That everything you have to do in terms of control speeds, in terms of understanding visual processing, in terms of content design, are leading you towards brain-computer interfaces and what they do. 

So that’s the main thing, and then I think brain-computer interfaces are going to be incredibly disruptive, one of the more disruptive technology transitions that we’re going to go through.

So I think it’s super valuable. You know, we’re making big investments in new headsets and games for those application categories, but also looking further down the road and saying what does that evolve into.”

Back in September, Lynch also found evidence of a standalone VR headset in development at Valve, referred to as ‘Deckard’ in SteamVR driver files. Sources at Ars Technica corroborated the headset’s existence.

Newell also previously said Valve was exploring work with OpenBCI to solve VR motion sickness. If you sign up for the newsletter on the OpenBCI website for its upcoming “Galea” interface, the organization promises to ship an initial production run to testing partners in early 2022 fully integrated with the Valve Index, offering “image-based eye tracking” as well as sensors for “EEG, EDA, EMG, PPG, EOG” and access to “raw data” from the “BrainFlow” application programming interface.

“We’re working on an open source project so that everybody can have high-resolution [brain signal] read technologies built into headsets, in a bunch of different modalities,” Newell said previously. “If you’re a software developer in 2022 who doesn’t have one of these in your test lab, you’re making a silly mistake…software developers for interactive experience[s] — you’ll be absolutely using one of these modified VR head straps to be doing that routinely — simply because there’s too much useful data.”

galea bci indexValve’s current focus is seemingly locked on the Steam Deck for now and the foreseeable future, but new VR headsets are in the offing from other companies and additional sensors seem to be planned for competing high end systems. The HP Reverb G2 currently comes in an “Omnicept” edition with additional sensors and Meta is preparing a sensor-laden headset currently going by the codename Cambria for next year as Apple prepares its own sensor-filled VR headset for potential launch soon.

Valve shipped the high-end Index PC-powered VR headset starting in 2019 and it is in use by around 17 percent of SteamVR users as of this month. Prior to launching Index, Valve reportedly explored a ‘Vader’ headset project that “sort of maxed everything” and would’ve cost the thousands of dollars to buy even if it “had somehow been manufacturable.”

We’ll be interested to see what sensors actually do make it into the next generation VR headsets given the difficult reality of securing key components and manufacturing millions of VR headsets amid ongoing developments with the pandemic as well as continuous supply chain challenges.

What are you thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

The VR Job Hub: Singer Studios, Khora & Secret Location

VR Job Hub

Every weekend VRFocus gathers together vacancies from across the virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) industry, in locations around the globe to help make finding that ideal job easier. Below is a selection of roles that are currently accepting applications across a number of disciplines, all within departments and companies that focus on immersive entertainment.

LocationCompanyRoleLink
London, UK/RemoteSinger StudiosSenior ProducerClick Here to Apply
Copenhagen, DenmarkKhoraProject ManagerClick Here to Apply
Copenhagen, DenmarkKhoraUnity GeneralistClick Here to Apply
Copenhagen, DenmarkKhoraCG ArtistClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret Location2D Illustrator/AnimatorClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationBackend DeveloperClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationBackend Network ProgrammerClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationContent SpecialistClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationDigital Project ManagerClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationGame DesignerClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationGame ProducerClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationGraphics ProgrammerClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationLead DeveloperClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationNetworking Gameplay ProgrammerClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationQA EngineerClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationQuality Assurance TesterClick Here to Apply
Toronto, CanadaSecret LocationUnity DeveloperClick Here to Apply

Don’t forget, if there wasn’t anything that took your fancy this week there’s always last week’s listings on The VR Job Hub to check as well.

If you are an employer looking for someone to fill an immersive technology related role – regardless of the industry – don’t forget you can send us the lowdown on the position and we’ll be sure to feature it in that following week’s feature. Details should be sent to Peter Graham (pgraham@vrfocus.com).

We’ll see you next week on VRFocus at the usual time of 3PM (UK) for another selection of jobs from around the world.

Register now for OpenSim community conferece

OSCC 2020. (Image courtesy AvaCon.)

The 2021 OpenSimulator Community Conference is next weekend, and registration is now open — and free.

This year’s conference features more than 65 speakers leading presentations, workshops, panel sessions, music, and social events across the diversity of the OpenSimulator user base.

See the full schedule here.

Attending the conference event is free, but those wishing to financially support the conference can still become a sponsor or participate in the  crowdfunder campaign when registering. Participants in the crowdfunding campaign will receive a variety of thank-you gifts depending upon their level of participation, including conference VIP seating, and the ability to have a virtual expo booth at the event. The conference sponsorship or crowdfunder contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law for US residents.

The OSCC21 presentation events taking place Saturday, Dec 11th, and Sunday, Dec 12th will also be live simulcast streamed to https://www.youtube.com/c/AvaconOrg/live.

Other ways to contribute to this year’s event include volunteering with the conference team and hosting a community event on their own grid as part of the conference program.

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