Valve’s long-awaited VR headset, the Valve Index, launched late last week for early pre-order subscribers and has been met with praise since its limited release debut. It didn’t take long before President of Valve, Gabe Newell, took to the stage at a launch party for the celebrated VR HMD and discussed a few new technologies in the works at Valve HQ.
The company once known for their AAA-quality game titles has slowly moved into being a more services and products-oriented group, and as such it’s little surprise to hear them working on more hardware related to VR. The HTC Vive was the start of the company’s foray into VR and now its own fully internally-developed headset, Valve is more able to shape the future of VR to its vision than ever.
Currently, the Valve Index offers an unparalleled visual experience in VR thanks to a display that can run up to an insanely smooth 144Hz. There are some downsides to the current design, but it seems that Valve is already working on improvements for the current headset, as well as new headsets to further expand its new consumer base.
Newell’s speech was chock full of goodies, including discussion of a new untethered Index under development. Whether or not this is an entirely new headset or just part of the current generation Index’s modular capabilities isn’t known at this time. It was expected that Valve’s first VR headset was going to offer an untethered experience in the first place, but this didn’t happen for a likely number of untold reasons.
In addition to a wireless option in the future, Newell also talked about development of a less expensive headset, which is a relief to anyone that might be interested in Valve’s vision of VR but isn’t willing or able to pay the super high cost of $749 for the headset alone.
Also notable is the talk of the possibility of a better display and better optics for upcoming VR headsets from Valve. This is notable because the Index already features one of the most advanced displays on the market, both because of its refresh rate and the clarity of the display itself.
The lenses on the current generation Valve Index are both clearer and offer a wider field of view than previous generation lenses, but it looks like Valve is continuing to advance lens technology beyond this with development efforts. Newell didn’t clarify what, exactly, is the focus of development on lens technology. The current Index lenses aren’t quite as friendly to folks who need prescriptions to see well, as glasses will narrow that field of view considerably, so it’s feasible this could be a focus in the future.
Lastly was Newell’s talk of improving its products alongside its customers, as having feedback from folks gives them the ability to make better products. Quite a few people will call that into question though, given the general poor user experience that surrounds Valve’s own Steam marketplace app, but Newell sounded hopeful nonetheless. Half-Life 3 was once again teased but, at this point, it's better to hope for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow instead of that game ever seeing the light of day.
Are you excited about the recently launched Valve Index, or would you rather see something more affordable from the company? Maybe you were hoping for a wireless unit instead? Either way, let us know in the comments what you think about Valve’s latest and how they can improve upon future iterations and add-ons, and check out the whole speech in the video below.