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Valve is reportedly working on a standalone VR headset

Brad Lynch, a YouTube host who reports on virtual reality, has found evidence from patent applications and other sources that Valve is currently working on a standalone VR headset codenamed “Deckard.” Ars Technica has independently confirmed that the company is indeed developing a device with that codename.  

Lynch found references to multiple iterations of Deckard, including a “proof of concept” in June. Valve is apparently planning to give it the ability to bring up two SteamVR menu options: prism and standalone system layer. The latter, as you may have guessed, implies that the device could work on its own without the need to be tethered to a PC. If you’ll recall, Valve’s Index VR headset released in 2019 has to be attached to a computer to work. The YouTube host also discovered a mention of Deckard in a SteamVR Linux ARM binary. That particular evidence hints at processing power built into a Valve VR headset, further solidifying the possibility that it’s a standalone device. 

According to Ars Technica’s sources, Valve was developing two design concepts for a virtual reality headset. One of them ended up resembling the Index in that it needs to connect to a PC and to SteamVR Tracking Boxes. The other ended up being designed around a built-in processor with inside-out tracking like the Oculus Quest. Those sources also hinted that Valve had to bring in an outside firm to develop inside-out tracking that could match what the Quest can do. 

Whether the standalone VR headset will ever be released remains to be seen. As the publication notes, Valve is already preparing to start shipping the Steam Deck in December. With the current chip shortage affecting the tech and auto industries today, we may have to wait quite a bit for Deckard if Valve decides to release it at all.

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