Valve absolutely stole consumer VR headlines in 2019 when it debuted its technologically groundbreaking Index headset, which blew pundits away with high-quality VR gaming applications. The Valve Index headset and related immersive applications brought a lot of eyes to the XR marketplace. Subsequently, third-party VR headsets found a home on the SteamVR dashboard, providing an easy avenue for PCVR streaming. Most notably, the Meta Quest 2 became the most popular VR headset on SteamVR, driving accessibility for immersive PCVR workplace applications and more.
Meanwhile, while making a big splash, Valve’s Index headset lost popularity as the Quest 2 led most consumer VR market groups with its low price and easy adoption value. While Valve has teased information regarding its next headset, the SteamVR hub became crucial to many immersive technology adopters for leveraging PCVR applications for various use cases.
Valve introduced SteamVR 2.0 this week, which brings usability updates to the popular PCVR dashboard for Index users and beyond. The update primarily adds improved user functionality, such as introducing more Steam and Steam Deck elements into the SteamVR ecosystem, an updated keyboard that supports dual-cursor typing, new language support, Steam Chat/Voice Chat integration, an improved storefront that displays the latest VR releases, and Steam notifications.
Moreover, SteamVR 2.0 adds various fixes, including general performance, controller, and driver optimisations. Additionally, the update improves the usability of Meta headsets on SteamVR.
A statement from Valve explained:
In this release we’re bringing all of what’s new and exciting on the Steam platform into VR. This is our first big step in a larger ongoing effort to better unify the Steam ecosystem for all users, providing a more consistent experience across devices. This update also allows us to add new Steam features in the future much faster and more frequently.
Valve Deckard Headset Incoming?
Valve first leaked a new headset in September last year, revealing Deckard as a potential standalone device.
In June 2022, Valve filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which gave fans a first look at the Deckard device. Valve’s USPTO request reveals that the device incorporates a sturdy head mounting system to improve upon conventional headset designs.
In its filing, Valve also hinted at mixed and augmented reality (MR/AR) functions, revealing that the Deckard device contains hardware that ensures passthrough quality and considerations – mirroring the eventual rise of MR headsets in 2023.
In June 2022, further leaks emerged, suggesting that Steam’s standalone VR headset may be closer than fans predicted, with hidden features from Valve’s SteamVR hub offering support for a native mobile VR headset.
The leaks reveal hidden playroom setup features on the previous version of Steam VR that enable users to assign their floor level and playroom boundary size, guiding the user through the process while still wearing a Valve-brand headset.
The firm’s hidden playroom process works differently from its current approach for the Valve Index, requiring a tethered device.
Instead, the latest feature suggests that Valve is debuting a service to enable users to create a playspace while wearing a standalone headset, similar to the rumoured Deckard device.
Valve also added increased features to its SteamVR Home environment in May 2022. In SteamVR v1.22, the platform introduced immersive environments based on photogrammetry captures.
The update lets users download and explore an accurately captured path in Fornalutx, Mallorca. Valve digitised the real-world location using roughly 640 photos. Using Epic Games’ recently acquired Reality Capture software, the firm combined the 2D source files into a real-time 3D (RT3D) environment. The move again mirrors attempts by Meta and Apple to create an immersive home space for users to access applications via a landing page dashboard.