Ars Technica: Valve’s long-rumored VR headset is finally real: the Valve Index, coming in June

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oakenhild

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Oct 27, 2017
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I don't think we can say it was clearly anything yet. They've been working on these for a long time. And whether people like it or not, Valve has a very public philosophy (if you've ever watched their Steam Dev Day videos): "People don't want to hear emtpy words. It makes them angry when you speak and fail to deliver on your promises. Speak only when you have something to show them."

This is clearly a tactic to build hype. And if they're actually launching in May, it's a good tactic. Drop a tiny scrap, let the community get invested and speculate away. Then when that's run its course, drop some more. Keep them in a frenzy and build the hype till you launch in May.

If we're talking counter-measures, I half wonder how much the industry has actually known about things. Valve's been running the factory for quite some time now. Facebook has to have a general idea of what's up. I wonder if the Rift S was Facebook's counter to the fact they knew Valve was launching soon. And they needed a new product to be a able to sell as an ugprade. So they Franken-smashed the Go and Quest together as some cheap new product they could counter it with (on the budget end).
True, the Rift S could be the Oculus response to Index, trying to get ahead of any Valve momentum. Either way, the timing of these announcements doesn't seem like an accident. They're all competing against a not-huge PC VR market and need to get as many people to their ecosystem as they can early on.
 

shoyz

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Oct 26, 2017
274
There aren't a ton of Vive owners. Making high end VR much more confusing and less accessible to the average joe to save a small amount of people money would be a losing strategy, unless they were aiming to be a niche product only the earliest of early adopters would buy.
There aren't a ton of VR headset owners in general and I can't think they'd abandon their entire Vive userbase, especially considering how SteamVR's ecosystem was designed to be modular and forward-compatible, nor do I think that having a store listing (however much buried) for just the headset with a "Steam VR Controllers and Lighthouses required." bumper is going to confuse anyone other than the fools leaving negative reviews on VR games for not working (without VR). And I doubt Index owners would want to be forced to buy another set when the Index 2 comes out either.
Likewise I can't think they'd not sell the Knuckles controller separately, abandoning both Vive and Pimax users, and I don't see them selling the Knuckles standalone but not the headset. I'm really not sure how anyone would be confused if Valve heavily pushes their bundle on the website/Steam and leaves the headset only option for those who specifically seek it.
 

Krejlooc

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There aren't a ton of VR headset owners in general and I can't think they'd abandon their entire Vive userbase, especially considering how SteamVR's ecosystem was designed to be modular and forward-compatible, nor do I think that having a store listing (however much buried) for just the headset with a "Steam VR Controllers and Lighthouses required." bumper is going to confuse anyone other than the fools leaving negative reviews on VR games for not working (without VR). And I doubt Index owners would want to be forced to buy another set when the Index 2 comes out either.
Likewise I can't think they'd not sell the Knuckles controller separately, abandoning both Vive and Pimax users, and I don't see them selling the Knuckles standalone but not the headset. I'm really not sure how anyone would be confused if Valve heavily pushes their bundle on the website/Steam and leaves the headset only option for those who specifically seek it.
They absolutely aren't going to abandon old users. SteamVR Skeletal Input is basically their solution to the multiple VR controller problem. That's their way to allowing devs to compensate for the relatively major discrepancy in tracking abilities. Design your game around physical finger interactions, then map those fingers to your controller as best as Skeletal Input can.

Knuckles looks to be, far and away, the most articulate controller ever with regards to every finger on your hand. They built the end goal, then built an entire API around providing forwards compatibility to all their competitors. Very valve like.
 
Oct 27, 2017
10,772
I want to say this logo has something to do with visiting worlds beyond our own but I dont really believe that.

Since the are two half circles. I'm going with 180 something.

Hopefully horizontal degrees FOV lol

Edit: Nevermind it doesn't look big enough. I honestly wonder what Valve is doing with this headset and why it's worth it for them.
Saw this pointed out on Reddit: Valve has a patent for a display using double Fresnel lenses to create better image quality, and the logo appears to be an eyeball and two lenses. Probably not a coincidence.
 

Flandy

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Oct 25, 2017
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Saw this pointed out on Reddit: Valve has a patent for a display using double Fresnel lenses to create better image quality, and the logo appears to be an eyeball and two lenses. Probably not a coincidence.
I was literally about to post this! The two screens I posted before are also quite small so it would fit with that.

Here are some tweets I saw about it
 

Vash63

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Oct 28, 2017
811
I was literally about to post this! The two screens I posted before are also quite small so it would fit with that.

Here are some tweets I saw about it
Very cool! That looks like a fairly strong bet. So this means either even higher FOV than expected, or maybe using a smaller, lighter and denser display? Wonder how it deals with the 'godray' effect having double fresnel lenses.
 

Durante

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Oct 24, 2017
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The double fresnel theory is interesting, since it could also explain how they get the rumoured FoV out of a HMD with that size.
 

Nzyme32

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Oct 28, 2017
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I was literally about to post this! The two screens I posted before are also quite small so it would fit with that.

Here are some tweets I saw about it
The double fresnel theory is interesting, since it could also explain how they get the rumoured FoV out of a HMD with that size.
I made a similar guess at this being potentially optics related sometime ago on discord.

Of note, the optics section of the partner page being referenced wasn't updated since maybe October 2017 or early 2018, so it doesn't seem so far fetched that they would refine or innovate upon what they were accomplishing then, potentially with different display technologies also.
 
Oct 27, 2017
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If Valve really made their own headset and branded it around the lenses, you’d have to think this thing is going to produce some nice images. It gets more interesting when you remember they also have a patent involving eye tracking...
 

1-D_FE

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Oct 27, 2017
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If Valve really made their own headset and branded it around the lenses, you’d have to think this thing is going to produce some nice images. It gets more interesting when you remember they also have a patent involving eye tracking...
And that patent does the eye tracking behind the lenses. So the lack of markers on the leaked photos really doesn't disprove anything. They also have patents that deal with using eye tracking to help compensate for things like chromatic aberration. With the pretty elegant and novel solution they have for it, I really don't think eye tracking would add a ton to the cost, I think it'll more come down to whether they got it to work with the entire population without issues.

Of course they also have close relationships with Nvidia and AMD. So getting them to cooperate with fovated rendering would go a long ways towards helping with rendering requirements too.

This thing could be true next gen if it lives up to the hubris of the name/logo.
 

GeoGonzo

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Oct 25, 2017
1,647
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By the time May comes around we may have convinced ourselves that this is a holodeck. It is fun to speculate but I think it’d be wise to keep expectations in check, otherwise we’ll just set ourselves up for disappointment.
 

Candescence

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Oct 27, 2017
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And that patent does the eye tracking behind the lenses. So the lack of markers on the leaked photos really doesn't disprove anything. They also have patents that deal with using eye tracking to help compensate for things like chromatic aberration. With the pretty elegant and novel solution they have for it, I really don't think eye tracking would add a ton to the cost, I think it'll more come down to whether they got it to work with the entire population without issues.

Of course they also have close relationships with Nvidia and AMD. So getting them to cooperate with fovated rendering would go a long ways towards helping with rendering requirements too.

This thing could be true next gen if it lives up to the hubris of the name/logo.
I don't think Valve would release their own headset if it wasn't truly distinct from the Vive in terms of feature-set. The lens is probably gonna be one of the big features that improves visual quality, but not the only one, aside from the Knuckles, I think. Optional wireless and other modular upgrades is definitely gonna be a big selling point.

Still, I really do hope this makes for a big improvement in visual clarity. One of the weirdest bugbears about VR I have right now is that objects are actually harder to look at when up close.
 

Durante

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Oct 24, 2017
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So there's a purported "leak" which gives an indication of the resolution:


That's 90% at 1913x2125, or 100% at 2016x2240.

With a 1.4x multiplier (like Vive) that would indicate a 1440x1600 display -- which is exactly the Vive Pro spec.
With a lower multiplier it would indicate a higher panel resolution, obviously, but I'm not sure why everyone on Reddit assumes that is the case.

I do think that, if it's real, we can rule out anything less than 1440x1600 panels per eye.
 

Paganmoon

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Oct 26, 2017
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The subreddit r/valveindex seems to be scouring old videos for info.
Think that's where the screenshot above is from as well.
 

Durante

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The subreddit r/valveindex seems to be scouring old videos for info.
Think that's where the screenshot above is from as well.
Yeah, that's where it's from.

It would be rather easy to fake, but I don't think it is.
The thing is, it also doesn't tell us anything about the actual native HW resolution (other than a probable lower bound of 1440x1600).
 

murgo

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Oct 25, 2017
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Man, if this thing is good and comes bundled with Knuckle controllers at a reasonable price I might finally enter PCVR. I just hope it'll be glasses friendly :/
 

Tankshell

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Nov 1, 2017
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I just offloaded my Rift CV1 with the intention of upgrading to a new set this year, I was leaning towards the Rift S... but now I may have to see how this plays out. Wider FOV is my most anticipated feature.... hmmmm.
 

1-D_FE

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Oct 27, 2017
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How pissed was 500500 when he saw this news? Think he wasn't like "fuuuuuucck" when he heard the news? Vive Reddit survives the civil war and, yet, Vive essentially dies the day this is announced. Kind of hilarious.

Of course the new icon goes live on April 1st. LOL

I still maintain if there's an actual HL themed game in development (and ready for launch), Valve would be missing the ultimate troll opportunity by not leaking info today.
 
Oct 27, 2017
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Honestly, I’m not believing any info unless it comes from Valve, especially today, this most exhausting of holidays. That VNN tweet came an hour after he promised he was working on a Valve April Fools video.
 

qrac

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Nov 13, 2017
525
I'm not sold on VR and probably won't be sold on this. Still waiting for VR to get to basically just being ski glases (form and weight) with screens. What is that, 2-4 generations away?
 
May 25, 2018
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How pissed was 500500 when he saw this news? Think he wasn't like "fuuuuuucck" when he heard the news? Vive Reddit survives the civil war and, yet, Vive essentially dies the day this is announced. Kind of hilarious.



Of course the new icon goes live on April 1st. LOL

I still maintain if there's an actual HL themed game in development (and ready for launch), Valve would be missing the ultimate troll opportunity by not leaking info today.
It was from a developer live streaming. I don't know if it was a Valve employee. I doubt it. So it's not really Valve leaking.
 

Trojita

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Oct 25, 2017
5,720
Man, if this thing is good and comes bundled with Knuckle controllers at a reasonable price I might finally enter PCVR. I just hope it'll be glasses friendly :/
Depending on your interest and budget, people were posting earlier in this thread that there are lens makers that make prescription lenses specifically for VR.
 

EVIL

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Oct 27, 2017
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Depending on your interest and budget, people were posting earlier in this thread that there are lens makers that make prescription lenses specifically for VR.
except if rumors are correct and valve uses some custom lens system from their patents it would complicate it quite a bit. I am pretty sure it will be glasses proof just like the Rift S
Unless you are using these badboys
 

Huw_Dawson

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Oct 25, 2017
1,470
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I'm very, very interested in this headset

WIsh VRChat's development had moved forward at any kind of haste though, as we're still not going to have a good sandbox make-your-own-content game by the time this comes out. :/
 

1-D_FE

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Oct 27, 2017
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So there's a purported "leak" which gives an indication of the resolution:


That's 90% at 1913x2125, or 100% at 2016x2240.

With a 1.4x multiplier (like Vive) that would indicate a 1440x1600 display -- which is exactly the Vive Pro spec.
With a lower multiplier it would indicate a higher panel resolution, obviously, but I'm not sure why everyone on Reddit assumes that is the case.

I do think that, if it's real, we can rule out anything less than 1440x1600 panels per eye.
Did they change the way things are calculated? I was going to say there's no way these numbers could turn out perfectly and be a coincidence (was going to do multipliers and 90% calculations on the other possible screen candidates (1X, 1.1X, 1.2X, 1.3X) and see if anything came out perfect (which I doubted would happen).

But what am I doing wrong with my calculations? Isn't it supposed to be 1440 X 1.4 X .9 = 1814 and 1600 X 1.4 X .9 = 2016. Is this because of how Valve changed the SS equation? What's the new equation you used to get those numbers?
 

gozu

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Oct 27, 2017
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I'm not sold on VR and probably won't be sold on this. Still waiting for VR to get to basically just being ski glases (form and weight) with screens. What is that, 2-4 generations away?
it's at least 4 generations away. Possibly more. Why?

It would require:

1. huge breakthrough in batteries or wireless power to deliver juice to the video, audio, cameras and other sensor electronics on your head, even if they are ULPW (ultra-low power). odds: very poor
2. much improved ULPW (ultra-low power) "WiGig". odds: excellent
3. ultra-thin flexible ULPW display (odds: good)

Are you willing to lower your standards and accept a battery back with a wire going up to your VR ski glasses? If everything else is perfect (assuming bluetooth headphones worn separately)
 

1-D_FE

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Oct 27, 2017
3,395
it's at least 4 generations away. Possibly more. Why?

It would require:

1. huge breakthrough in batteries or wireless power to deliver juice to the video, audio, cameras and other sensor electronics on your head, even if they are ULPW (ultra-low power). odds: very poor
2. much improved ULPW (ultra-low power) "WiGig". odds: excellent
3. ultra-thin flexible ULPW display (odds: good)

Are you willing to lower your standards and accept a battery back with a wire going up to your VR ski glasses? If everything else is perfect (assuming bluetooth headphones worn separately)
Could you even use optics (and screens) with this? I kind of assumed we'd have to reach a point where the image was being projected into the retina for this form factor to be viable.
 

cakefoo

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Nov 2, 2017
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I'm not sold on VR and probably won't be sold on this. Still waiting for VR to get to basically just being ski glases (form and weight) with screens. What is that, 2-4 generations away?
Once they're comfortable and lightweight enough for your tastes, would thinness really matter?
 

I KILL PXLS

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Oct 25, 2017
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I'm not sold on VR and probably won't be sold on this. Still waiting for VR to get to basically just being ski glases (form and weight) with screens. What is that, 2-4 generations away?
It's going to be a while before the high end gets that small, but mid to low end might be there within 5-10 years.
 

Durante

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Oct 24, 2017
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Did they change the way things are calculated? I was going to say there's no way these numbers could turn out perfectly and be a coincidence (was going to do multipliers and 90% calculations on the other possible screen candidates (1X, 1.1X, 1.2X, 1.3X) and see if anything came out perfect (which I doubted would happen).

But what am I doing wrong with my calculations? Isn't it supposed to be 1440 X 1.4 X .9 = 1814 and 1600 X 1.4 X .9 = 2016. Is this because of how Valve changed the SS equation? What's the new equation you used to get those numbers?
The 0.9 is applied to the pixel count, not the individual dimensions. (So it's a linear rather than a quadratic metric in terms of rendering load)
You need to calculate the total number of pixels, apply the 0.9 to that, and go back from that to something with the same aspect ratio with that pixel count.
 

dex3108

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Oct 26, 2017
9,101
If I get new GPU this year I will start considering to get VR. But it will be hard to find a way to import it at reasonable price. Especially if Valve doesn't partner with somebody.
 

gozu

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Oct 27, 2017
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Could you even use optics (and screens) with this?
Not with today's technology, but progress on screens and screen "lenses/filters" (magic leap blurs the distinction a bit) has been quite good and I expect we'll have some sort of ultra-thin lenses that can do the job in 20 years (4 gens).
 

Dreamwriter

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Oct 27, 2017
4,059
I'm very, very interested in this headset

WIsh VRChat's development had moved forward at any kind of haste though, as we're still not going to have a good sandbox make-your-own-content game by the time this comes out. :/
Somnium Space is going to open up plots of land for people to develop on soon, with Indiegogo and investors choosing land plots this month. They are targeting "the first half of the year" for having tools for people to upload their own creations to their properties. So it may not be ready by the time the Index comes out, but it shouldn't be that much long after.
 

1-D_FE

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Oct 27, 2017
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Thanks. I'm gonna be shocked if it's anything other than 1440 X 1600 then. I saw in another thread that someone said it's exactly the same resolution as their Vive Pro @ 90% super sampling.

I see you've got a couple people trying to talk themselves into things (in your thread), but that becomes borderline impossible for me when the pixels match exactly. Not even off by a single pixel? The only way you could possibly get one of those higher resolution panels to do that is by choosing some rediculious float as your multiplier (and even then I'm not sure you'd get horizontal and vertical to both match those numbers in the leak).

As you pointed out, though, it doesn't necessarily mean the final product will have those screens (but I'm assuming it will). I didn't really take bandwidth into account with earlier speculation. Makes sense that Valve doesn't want to ship an HMD that only fully works with 2XXX series Nvidia cards.
 

Vash63

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Oct 28, 2017
811
Not that there was much doubt among those that follow Valve closely, but Plagman from Valve confirmed in the public VKx (dxvk) discord server that Index does already work in Linux, so for any fellow Linux users out there we should be covered from launch day.
 

1-D_FE

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Oct 27, 2017
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http://www.freepatentsonline.com/10241566.pdf

Valve's latest Chaperone patent has been posted on Reddit. Lots of subtle changes described in it, but at the very bottom, under section 12, it talks about a final vibratory warning from the HMD headset. So the patent backs VNN's rumors of the headphones having haptics in them.
 

I KILL PXLS

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Oct 25, 2017
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http://www.freepatentsonline.com/10241566.pdf

Valve's latest Chaperone patent has been posted on Reddit. Lots of subtle changes described in it, but at the very bottom, under section 12, it talks about a final vibratory warning from the HMD headset. So the patent backs VNN's rumors of the headphones having haptics in them.
Forgot about that aspect. Still curious about what exactly that adds though. Either way anything that further discourages my friends from ignoring the chaperone is welcome.
 

MrKlaw

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Oct 25, 2017
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1-D_FE

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Forgot about that aspect. Still curious about what exactly that adds though. Either way anything that further discourages my friends from ignoring the chaperone is welcome.
I expect it's subtle, but I bet it could be interesting. Playing around with the latest SteamVR plugin in Unity, it's pretty crazy how many zones you can now direct haptics feedback too. This would now make the "head" zone pretty standard.
 
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