Valve posted a job listing to “prototype, ship, and support” a VR headset with advanced tracking features:
At Valve, we are pushing the boundaries of virtual reality (VR) experiences. We are looking for versatile, self-directed software engineers in computer vision who can help us achieve the next steps in VR with millions of customers world-wide.
The main scope of this position is to prototype, ship, and support consumer gaming products leveraging visual-inertial tracking (HMD and controllers), camera passthrough, environment understanding, eye tracking, and hand tracking.
Valve Index, the company’s $999 tethered PC VR kit, has now been on the market for more than three years. It still has best-in-class tracking and audio quality but its 1600×1440 per eye resolution has been surpassed by even low-cost headsets like Quest 2 and Pico 4, and it doesn’t support wireless play (though a startup is working on an adapter).
In May 2021 Valve CEO Gabe Newell referred to “making big investments in new headsets” in a talk at a school. Three months later Valve product designer Greg Coomer was asked by The Verge whether Steam Deck’s chip could be used in a standalone VR headset. He replied it would “run well in that environment” and said “it’s very relevant to us and our future plans”.
In February of this year, as Steam Deck shipping began, Newell mentioned VR in multiple media interviews. He told Edge Magazine Steam Deck represented “battery-capable, high-performance horsepower that eventually you could use in VR applications as well”, noting “We’re not really there yet, but this is a stepping stone.” When discussing Steam Deck’s technology with Eurogamer he mused “why can’t I have that in a tetherless integrated VR solution?”.
The first direct evidence of a specific new headset was discovered late last year by YouTuber Brad Lynch (SadlyItsBradley) in the code of SteamVR driver files. The headset discovered is codenamed ‘Deckard’, the surname of Blade Runner’s protagonist. Ars Technica said its sources confirmed Deckard’s existence.
A Valve patent filing made public four months ago might have revealed the design of Deckard’s strap, though it didn’t concretely reveal any technical details.
The new job listing indicates Deckard may have inside-out head and controller tracking, eye tracking, hand tracking, passthrough, and scene understanding. Passthrough and scene understanding could mean it will also support mixed reality, though it could also just be an evolution of the SteamVR Chaperone safety boundary system.
If Deckard is shipping any time soon it could take on Meta’s Quest Pro, expected to be announced tomorrow.