Image: Valve, uspto.gov
A patent could reveal what the VR controllers of Valve’s possible new “Deckard” VR headset look like. The drawings suggest tracking changes.
In October, a job posting revealed that Valve planned to invest more in virtual reality to reach “millions of customers”. A VR controller patent issued on November 22 is another indication that the company is serious – and working on a new VR headset. The device could replace the Valve Index PC VR headset (test), which was already released in 2019.
Signs of this abound, in addition to job vacancies. Last June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Valve’s patent for a “head-mounted display” with wireless streaming notes and split computer units.
Many clues to Valve’s upcoming “Deckard” VR headset have leaked to VR analyst Brad Lynch and Ars Technica from patents, SteamVR updates, and industry sources. Valve President Gabe Newell and Product Designer Greg Coomer also hinted at work on a new VR headset.
Controllers with two tracking variants?
The current patent could show the design of Valve’s new VR controllers. Unlike Index controllers, the tracking ring is no longer on the side above the back of the hand, but above the stick and buttons.
The ring design is similar to Meta’s Quest 2 controllers. The description states that the prototype ring houses either infrared LEDs or photodiodes.
This would allow Valve to enable two different types of tracking. Front-facing helmet cameras would enable modern inside-out tracking, or base stations could enable precise headlight tracking. The jobs postings also suggested that Valve will be focusing on built-in tracking in the future, suggesting at least optional stand-alone operation.
The layout of the stick and buttons also resembles Meta’s model. The touchpad is also missing on the Index controllers. The strap for tying the hand plays an important role in the patent, which is always a special feature. Thanks to the strap, the hands remain firmly attached to the controller even when the fingers open, for example when throwing in VR.
The Index Controller already offers two fine adjustments for different hand sizes – an elastic pull strap at the lower end and a laterally sliding clicker on the upper edge. The new prototype moves the top end with a slider built into the shaft.
Finger tracking for “Valve Deckard?”
According to Valve, one of the advantages is that the individual adjustment does not change the position of the grip. The the fingers would still rest properly on the finger tracking sensors. So if Valve decides to use this prototype for a new VR headset, the controllers already offer hand tracking similar to the Playstation VR 2 and Index. Proximity and pressure sensors are mentioned for this. Also, the straps can apparently be easily replaced in the prototype.
As usual, patents are not proof of the products actually intended. Lynch noticed another prototype photo in the doc showing an alternate design with a ring on the side like the Valve Index or Playstation VR 2. So the Deckard controller might end up looking completely different – if Valve even brings a new one. VR headset.
This figure has marked differences from the rest of the images. The ring descends similar to PS VR 2 controllers. It also displays a system button.
The main thing they wanted to show here is the fact that users will be able to remove/replace the wrist strap by design https://t.co/s9xhvKd7Ro pic.twitter.com/4W4fk7R9zH
— Brad Lynch (@SadlyItsBradley) November 22, 2022