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Looks like a possible Valve Index 2 will make their VR kit go wireless

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Thanks to a new patent that went public on June 17, we can see a little more behind the scenes work on what Valve has planned for their next VR kit with what could be a Valve Index 2. The news and speculation comes thanks to a video from SadlyItsBradley.

The patent itself was actually filed back in December 2019, so it's not actually new. However, it did only just this month go public so now we're able to dive in and see what Valve were thinking about their next steps. It goes to show that they were clearly already thinking about the next generation as the Valve Index was releasing back in June 2019.

Wireless VR is the next true step to make the experience even better. As an owner of a Valve Index (and it's awesome), I can safely say it would be far nicer without the big thick wire attached to it. It gets in the way, you can easily step on it and unplug it, and it's just another part that can break. Part of the problem with wireless or standalone VR kits, as Valve say in the patent, is that they can be heavy and hot due to doing all of the rendering. Some of the skimp on the power to get around this but then you get less of an experience. So how to do deal with those and other issues?

What we can see from the patent is that Valve wanted to have a split rendering system where a PC would do some of it, send it wirelessly over to a HMD (Head-mounted display) to then have the HMD do some too.

Working together, it seems, Valve think this would solve current issues with latency and graphical power for VR. The patent goes into some depth on all the ins and outs of how it would work, including that the HMD looks to be almost be a full computer (see above picture). Part of how they want to solve it using this split rendering system is to have the HMD attempt to correct any errors, and it would be able to do so if it has enough power inside it with it not needing to render everything by itself.

Not only does it talk about the details of the split-rendering mode, it also mentions how it could be used as a standalone device for less graphically intensive games, movies and more. So we could be looking at a new VR kit from Valve that doubles up as a standalone unit and one that can connect up to a PC either wired or wirelessly (it mentions both).

Complicated stuff but this is all incredibly exciting to make VR more accessible than it currently is!

If this turns into a real product, along with a possible handheld SteamPal - Valve would be well positioned to keep pulling in future gamers of all kinds.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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26 comments
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GeoGalvanic 21 Jun
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The real question is if it will be able to play games straight from the steam pal...
CatKiller 21 Jun
So, I think the idea is to use the same kind of tech as game streaming; the computer renders the scene based on position information from the headset, and sends essentially a 360° video stream to the headset, which can be freely navigated using the headset. If there's enough bandwidth, that could be quite interesting.
slaapliedje 21 Jun
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Quoting: GuestIt would be great if you could have the choice. Either use it wireless or plug it in for higher quality or rather less input lag and such. So you can decide for yourself how you wanna use it.
It most likely works the same way or similarly to the HTC's wireless addon, in which case, yeah you can use it wireless or plugged in.

There was a guy on youtube talking about this being a thing rather than the 'SteamPal' and that the other patents that were filed were about either a wireless adapter for the Index, or a potential Index 2. We'd need better video cards for an Index 2.
Quoting: CatKillerSo, I think the idea is to use the same kind of tech as game streaming; the computer renders the scene based on position information from the headset, and sends essentially a 360° video stream to the headset, which can be freely navigated using the headset. If there's enough bandwidth, that could be quite interesting.

Ya know, if they included depth information per pixel, it would be possible to not only correctly correct the 360 image to adjust for head rotation, but also give proper depth displacement to the 360 video to account for head movement with near zero latency as well. Would hide a lot of latency or frame rate issues in most circumstances.
slaapliedje 21 Jun
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Quoting: gradyvuckovic
Quoting: CatKillerSo, I think the idea is to use the same kind of tech as game streaming; the computer renders the scene based on position information from the headset, and sends essentially a 360° video stream to the headset, which can be freely navigated using the headset. If there's enough bandwidth, that could be quite interesting.

Ya know, if they included depth information per pixel, it would be possible to not only correctly correct the 360 image to adjust for head rotation, but also give proper depth displacement to the 360 video to account for head movement with near zero latency as well. Would hide a lot of latency or frame rate issues in most circumstances.
Pretty sure that tech is OLD. Like Atari Jaguar old (with z-depth). Unless you're talking about something else? Kind of required for most 3D stuff in general.
Hori 21 Jun
The index cable is very fragile. Mine broke recently. Fortunately they do provide a free replacement for it, at least.
But after that I am now constantly worried that it will break again suddenly.


Last edited by Hori on 21 June 2021 at 4:30 pm UTC
CatKiller 21 Jun
Quoting: gradyvuckovic
Quoting: CatKillerSo, I think the idea is to use the same kind of tech as game streaming; the computer renders the scene based on position information from the headset, and sends essentially a 360° video stream to the headset, which can be freely navigated using the headset. If there's enough bandwidth, that could be quite interesting.

Ya know, if they included depth information per pixel, it would be possible to not only correctly correct the 360 image to adjust for head rotation, but also give proper depth displacement to the 360 video to account for head movement with near zero latency as well. Would hide a lot of latency or frame rate issues in most circumstances.

So, looking at the patent, that seems to be something that's also included in the stream. The headset sends movement data, and the computer guesstimates where the headset will be at render time based on that. The stream it sends to the headset includes pixel data (so, the video stream) as well as pose data, depth data, motion vector data, parallax occlusion data, and "extra pixel data." So if the next frame is late, or the guesstimate is a bit wrong, the headset has enough data to correct for it. Could be neat.

Also, the computer seems to render the scene, but the headset renders the player model, which should also reduce any latency discrepancy between what the player's doing and what they're seeing.


Last edited by CatKiller on 21 June 2021 at 4:46 pm UTC
Ardje 21 Jun
Quoting: CatKillerSo, I think the idea is to use the same kind of tech as game streaming; the computer renders the scene based on position information from the headset, and sends essentially a 360° video stream to the headset, which can be freely navigated using the headset. If there's enough bandwidth, that could be quite interesting.
That does sound far from efficient at all.
It means that the host needs to render 360 instead of 100 degrees, so 3,6 times as much on the turn, and then we need a lot more for up down.
However if it would compile the scene to simple objects and can do a lot of the z axis calculations, and compile/precalculate a lot of the textures, it would make it a lot easier for the HMD.

Whatever they do, I want to know. I was discussing scene compilation/simplification and texture downloading to the HMD to get a split rendering system without a lot of bandwidth usage (like X11 does until chrome came, or network opengl) a few years ago. I am at least glad that Valve proofs I was not a fool ;-).
slaapliedje 21 Jun
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Quoting: HoriThe index cable is very fragile. Mine broke recently. Fortunately they do provide a free replacement for it, at least.
But after that I am now constantly worried that it will break again suddenly.
Where did it break at? The connector to the splitter that goes to the back of the PC always seemed a bit flimsy to me and I always worry when I unplug / move it around. Glad they replaced it for free!
Julius 21 Jun
Wouldn't have to be 360, something with a reasonable overscan (like 150°-180° maybe) would be sufficient since the screen refreshes that quickly anyways.

But this does sound like it could maybe even connect to a SteamPal then... interesting. I wonder if it will run Android or regular Linux on the headset itself though.
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