Valve wants to take "the next steps in VR" and reach "millions of customers"
A job posting at Valve shows that the company plans to invest further in VR.
According to the job posting, Valve is looking for software developers in computer vision. Machine vision is a foundational technology for many tracking applications with VR and AR.
Developers to be hired will be expected to develop and deliver prototypes and provide support for consumer gaming products. Development areas include headset and controller tracking, camera passthrough, object recognition, and eye and hand tracking.
- Proven professional software development experience in C/C++
- Deep understanding and hands-on experience in one or more of the following:
- SLAM/VIO/sensor fusion, visual positioning or other related directions
- 3D vision algorithms (traditional, deep learning based, or both - including SFM, MVS(Net), NeRF or other 3D reconstruction methods.
- Object detection and tracking, 3D pose estimation or other related directions
- Human subject awareness, including hand tracking, eye tracking, and body tracking
The goal is to "take the next steps in VR" and "reach millions of customers worldwide," Valve writes in the job posting.
Is Valve working on a standalone index?
Valve launched its first VR headset, Index, in the summer of 2019. The device is still among the best PC VR headset in the overall package, but a lot has happened with the technology since 2019.
For a few years now, the industry has been moving towards hybrid standalone devices rather than PC-only VR headsets. Quest 2 was the pioneer here. Pico 4, Quest Pro, Quest 3, Pimax Crystal, and a new HTC headset are likely to hit the market in the coming months, offering standalone and PC VR experiences. Apple's possible XR headset should also work as a standalone device and with a Mac.
The features mentioned in the job posting, such as camera passthrough, object recognition, and eye and hand tracking, are standard in many current and new devices.
Deckard becomes more likely
Simply put, if Valve wants to continue to have a say in the VR market, Index needs an upgrade. Previous code and patent leaks on the prototype Valve Deckard show that it has been in development for some time. The potentially upcoming headset will likely work standalone alongside the PC VR mode that comes naturally to Valve.
Valve CEO Gabe Newell said in March 2022 that the development of VR hardware laid the foundation for the PC gaming handheld Steam Deck. Conversely, Steam Deck could become the basis for a new VR headset: in the form of a wireless standalone.
The new job postings suggest that Valve is continuing to work on VR products and doing so with a focus on integrated tracking, which speaks for at least optional standalone operation.