If you've been sat, drumming your fingers against your desk in your wait for the Oculus Rift HD version to become a mainstream consumer product, you're not alone; I've been doing it too. However there's nothing to speed up and improve an industry like competition, which is why I'm excited by the news that next year – we're talking Janaury not December – Valve will be showing off its own Virtual Reality hardware, with a demonstration of what the hardware will be like two years down the line.
It's set to be shown off at one of Valve's Steam Dev Days, along with a load of other talks and presentations, but this one has captured a lot of attention already. The showing is titled, “What VR Could Show and Almost Certainly Will be within Two Years,” which sounds like one of those great, long kids book titles – but it's not, it's something that we get to be legitimately excited about as adults, which is even better.
“We’ve figured out what affordable Virtual Reality (VR) hardware will be capable of within a couple of years, and assembled a prototype which demonstrates that such VR hardware is capable of stunning experiences”, it reads. “This type of hardware is almost certainly going to appear in short order, and the time to starting developing for it is now. This talk will discuss what the hardware is like, and the kinds of experiences it makes possible. A few attendees will be randomly selected to try out the prototype following the talk.”
Anyone got cheap plane tickets?
But it wouldn't be Valve if it didn't discuss how this new technology will interact with Steam, so the follow up talk is all about how virtual reality will work with the digital distribution platform. Valve will also be talking about how it plans to promote VR supporting games, suggesting some sort of method outside of the normal sales and spotlights. On top of that, there's a planned discussion on the “Steam Overlay,” for VR, suggesting we could be looking at some kind of unique set up for the display, rather like how Big Picture works well for TV viewing with a controller.
What's somewhat surprising about this whole thing though, is that while the world did think Valve was working on this sort of tech at one point, we thought that had stopped when it fired Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson and cancelled their augmented reality glasses development. It did however later resurface as the CastAR Project – which incidentally recently finished its campaign on Kickstarter with more than double its funding goal.
KitGuru Says: An interesting turn of events that will be exciting to see play out. It's great to hear that there's a new VR demo coming in just a few months too, as every Oculus Rift update seems so far away, especially since we're looking at later next year for a commercial release.