Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Valve Reveals VR Headset as Next Hardware Project

By - Source: NY Times | B 28 comments

One of Valve's pet projects is a VR headset.

After being entrenched in the same videogame console generation for close to seven years now, it's clear that the games industry is in need of innovation. You might point to motion control gaming as a sign that creativity hasn't been drained from the industry entirely, but the Nintendo Wii is six-years-old now and well past its prime.

Innovation seems to be trending towards wearable computing. From Google's Project Glass to the John Carmack-endorsed Oculus Rift, virtual reality headsets may just be on the horizon for the next generation. Valve, beloved PC developer, is apparently jumping on board the VR headset train.

Recently, there have been whisperings of the possibility of Valve developing a new console. A recent job posting on Valve's site for an industrial designer, which stated, "We’re [Valve] frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked," added some weight to these rumors. However, a recent NY Times article indicated that Valve's interest in an industerial designer may not be for a "Steam box", but instead, a VR headset.

The company showed an early prototype to the Times. Valve's Michael Abrash heads up Valve's VR endeavor, although you shouldn't take that as an official affirmation that Valve will be unveiling a complete VR headset in a few years. According to Abrash, the company may end up not producing the headset, but would gladly share its designs with other companies.

Though EA's Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore poo-poos the idea of wearable computing becoming part of the mainstream, claiming "It’s appealing to them [Gabe Newell and Sergey Brin] because they live in that outer fringe of I.Q. and money," with Oculus Rift's successful Kickstarter and Valve's entry into VR development, VR gaming doesn't seem so far away.

 

Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback

Display 28 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    southernshark , September 10, 2012 9:08 PM
    Why would they even quote a crap company like EA at the end of the article? Who cares what EA thinks?

    EA thinks we are all idiots who want to buy another copy of Madden Football.
  • 20 Hide
    jackbling , September 10, 2012 9:02 PM
    I hope they team up with the oculus rift guys, as they already have a strong community following; if these headsets are going to take off, there needs to be uniform support.(i desperately want these to succeed.)
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    jackbling , September 10, 2012 9:02 PM
    I hope they team up with the oculus rift guys, as they already have a strong community following; if these headsets are going to take off, there needs to be uniform support.(i desperately want these to succeed.)
  • 21 Hide
    southernshark , September 10, 2012 9:08 PM
    Why would they even quote a crap company like EA at the end of the article? Who cares what EA thinks?

    EA thinks we are all idiots who want to buy another copy of Madden Football.
  • 6 Hide
    Darkerson , September 10, 2012 9:10 PM
    jackblingI hope they team up with the oculus rift guys, as they already have a strong community following; if these headsets are going to take off, there needs to be uniform support.(i desperately want these to succeed.)


    I agree. If they try and make a competing headset, all its going to do is fracture the community that would be willing to support these kind of devices. Team up and make it even better!
  • 7 Hide
    internetlad , September 10, 2012 9:11 PM
    southernsharkEA thinks we are all idiots who want to buy another copy of Madden Football.


    That's because all most of us idiots want to buy is another copy of Madden Football.

    or CoD.
  • 9 Hide
    fonzy , September 10, 2012 9:30 PM
    Hopefully there next project after this will be Half-Life 3.
  • 4 Hide
    bruce555 , September 10, 2012 9:38 PM
    fonzyHopefully there next project after this will be Half-Life 3.

    What if this project is meant to be after HL3?... Or with HL3, or... (gone to count total letters/words in Valve's statement to see if that number is divisible by 3).
  • 7 Hide
    house70 , September 10, 2012 9:43 PM
    fonzyHopefully there next project after this will be Half-Life 3.

    This is what you'll use to play HL3.
  • 3 Hide
    fonzy , September 10, 2012 9:44 PM
    bruce555What if this project is meant to be after HL3?... Or with HL3, or... (gone to count total letters/words in Valve's statement to see if that number is divisible by 3).


    I was being sarcastic but yeah this could be the reason why HL3 has taken so long. My patience is wearing thin though.
  • -3 Hide
    southernshark , September 10, 2012 9:53 PM

    internetladThat's because all most of us idiots want to buy is another copy of Madden Football.or CoD.



    Well at least you can recognize that you are an idiot. I guess that's a step in the right direction.
  • 4 Hide
    teh_chem , September 10, 2012 9:59 PM
    Call me lazy, but I like the fact that I can zone-out in my chair and use my keyboard and mouse. I can already go outside when I want to physically interact with the world.
  • 4 Hide
    mmstick , September 10, 2012 10:15 PM
    DarkersonI agree. If they try and make a competing headset, all its going to do is fracture the community that would be willing to support these kind of devices. Team up and make it even better!

    If you read the article, it stated: "According to Abrash, the company may end up not producing the headset, but would gladly share its designs with other companies. "

    Therefore, no one will be fractured, Valve is spending their money to open source efforts into improving VR design so products like Oculus Rift will benefit from it.

  • 0 Hide
    mmstick , September 10, 2012 10:58 PM
    fonzyI was being sarcastic but yeah this could be the reason why HL3 has taken so long. My patience is wearing thin though.

    If you know anything about how a company works, especially a company the size of Valve, you cannot put all employees to work on the same thing. It doesn't work that way. It is similar to how you cannot make a lot of programs highly multithreaded, there are a lot of people who spend time waiting for others to get certain things done because they cannot work until the other person is finished. When you scale this to a big business, the best way to use your employees that would otherwise be spent idling around, you employ them to working on multiple projects, in the same way an IT person like myself employs multiple programs, servers, virtual machines, to a single multicore system to make use of the unused cores.
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , September 10, 2012 11:50 PM
    teh_chemCall me lazy, but I like the fact that I can zone-out in my chair and use my keyboard and mouse. I can already go outside when I want to physically interact with the world.

    VR headsets do not necessitate that you be standing and active while using them. They can and have been used that way, but more likely than not, the ones that will become popular will let you lay back on the couch and use it like a glorified 3D TV that you don't have to hold your head up for.
  • 2 Hide
    stevo777 , September 11, 2012 12:21 AM
    southernsharkWhy would they even quote a crap company like EA at the end of the article? Who cares what EA thinks?EA thinks we are all idiots who want to buy another copy of Madden Football.

    Thank you. Well said. +1
  • 2 Hide
    CDdude55 , September 11, 2012 12:44 AM
    This is good news, we are starting to get some traction for innovation with new input methods. We have sort of been stuck in the cyle of "we needz moar powr!!1" for decades now and nothing really exciting has been taking the industry by storm in quite some time. I'm actually still suprised to see a ton of people who aren't tired or frustrated of reciveing the same syle input devices just attached to more power for the millionth time in a row.

    Power certainly is important, but it changes little in the long run for the end user. I beileve VR certainly is the future so i'm glad ID Software and Valve are at least atempting to bring about a shift and get the ball rolling.
  • 0 Hide
    blackball3242 , September 11, 2012 1:18 AM
    I certainly think a bit of healthy competition would be good for the VR market.
  • 0 Hide
    shin0bi272 , September 11, 2012 1:34 AM
    I do like the idea of VR headsets myself but I do worry about things like eye damage and migraines (if you get them you know why) being brought on by having 2 televisions half an inch from your eyes.

    I also seem to remember a tv episode (think it was sea quest DSV but dont quote me on that) where a city was destroyed by giant mechs and the only two people left alive were the mech pilots sitting in their livingrooms on VR helmets. There's just something about the whole sitting down in front of a monitor that seems at least like it could partially be a social experience with others in the room. But a bunch of people sitting alone in their room with a helmet on jacked into a computer screaming into their mic while facing a blank wall they cant even see just seems wrong.
  • 2 Hide
    mmstick , September 11, 2012 1:41 AM
    shin0bi272I do like the idea of VR headsets myself but I do worry about things like eye damage and migraines (if you get them you know why) being brought on by having 2 televisions half an inch from your eyes. I also seem to remember a tv episode (think it was sea quest DSV but dont quote me on that) where a city was destroyed by giant mechs and the only two people left alive were the mech pilots sitting in their livingrooms on VR helmets. There's just something about the whole sitting down in front of a monitor that seems at least like it could partially be a social experience with others in the room. But a bunch of people sitting alone in their room with a helmet on jacked into a computer screaming into their mic while facing a blank wall they cant even see just seems wrong.

    This problem was already addressed. It's hard to explain, but despite being a few inches from your eyes, your eyes will always be focused in the distance, so no strain.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , September 11, 2012 1:41 AM
    EA gets no right to make any claim about the game industry.

    that said, i would probably get valve vr over carmacks,
    that said though, beyond basic gameplay, i want a headset to
    -be able to simulate a 9 or so monitor desktop.
    -have an out faceing webcam so i dont need to take it off if someone wants to talk to me
    -be low profile, not because of weight, but because whatever headphones they give me will suck, and i want it to comfortably be on my face with my own headphones as well
    -must at least be 1280x720 per eye, yes i know that would be big, but at the same time i want that space so i never see anything but screen no matter where my eyes are looking, plus the detail they would bring. also, 2 1280x720 screens still comes in at less to render than 1 1920x1080

    whichever vr setup supports what i want, or supports more of what i want, will be the one i chose.
    that said, i doubt i would chose a 1920x1080 per eye display, just because of the setup you would need to run games on it properly, and lcds look like hell when when they aren't in native sizes so playing at lower resolutions would just be painful. if they had a multi desktop simulator though, that would be the best of both worlds.
  • 1 Hide
    teh_chem , September 11, 2012 1:58 AM
    caedenvVR headsets do not necessitate that you be standing and active while using them. They can and have been used that way, but more likely than not, the ones that will become popular will let you lay back on the couch and use it like a glorified 3D TV that you don't have to hold your head up for.

    I guess that's true. Perhaps I'm not enthusiastic about this for the same reason that I just don't care about 3D video. Here's the thing about the helmet--I don't see how it augments gameplay (assuming this is for gameplay). 3D has been a gimmick where content takes a back-seat to the ability to generate a 3D recreation. And where I used to use my mouse to move my field of view and aim/shoot (with my keyboard to control lateral/forward/backward movements), adding view control on a helmet and mouse control for aiming and keyboard control for movement. If this isn't VR where you use your full body (i.e., hands/arm movement with head/helmet movement), then adding one component is worthless.

    I acknowledge that reception of this all comes back to personal preference, and I am totally cool for others to be excited about this. But on its own--a display helmet that might integrate something like partial character control in an otherwise keyboard/mouse-oriented game is a poor application of the tech.

    Also, I don't care how comfortable/ergonomic someone can make a helmet--say, a bike helmet--it's never actually comfortable to use/wear. Add on electronics, that will only make it worse.
Display more comments