VALVE INDEX VR: Next Gen Gaming Experience With The New VR Headset

The new competition to the Oculus Rift VR

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valve index vr

Valve’s next-generation virtual reality unit, known as Valve Index VR, is an impressive plaything with a fistful of design advances beyond the old Vive. Setting up a VR system isn’t a new thing. I’m used to putting on headsets and diving into new worlds. But every once in a while, there’s something surprising that changes the game. Valve Index, a new high-end VR system arriving soon, does that with its unique controllers.

The entire kit is $1,000 — that includes the headset, controllers, and two base stations — which is a significant investment for the average person and feels very steep when other headset manufacturers are looking to make less expensive headsets.

If you’ve ever used any PC-connected VR before, Valve Index is mostly a familiar proposition: it works with Steam VR (no surprise), and the hardware is also compatible with the HTC Vive “lighthouse” sensor boxes, which is helpful.

Featuring dual LCD displays with a resolution of 1,440×1,600 for each eye, rather than a combined resolution of 2,160×1,200, the Index goggles promise to present some sharp images. A 120Hz refresh rate should also help reduce nausea some folks can feel when using a VR headset, and there’s even a 144Hz experimental mode. Valve also noted the Index offers 20-degrees more field of view than the Vive. It also includes the ability to adjust the inter-pupillary distance (how far the screen sits from your eyes) physically rather than through software, and the use of “off-ear” headphones, whereby the headphone speakers don’t touch the ears which Valve claims makes audio sound more natural.

Interact with your environment, objects, and people just like you do in the real world. Valve Index Controllers combine complex sensor inputs to give you smarter hands in VR, unlocking a wide variety of new interactions, experiences, and gestures.

Another thing Index doesn’t do (yet) is wireless. The long tethered cable to the desktop PC needs to plug into DisplayPort and USB, and has a breakout for the AC adapter.

Natural, direct input

Valve Index Controllers let you reach out and grab an object directly, rather than relying on abstractions like triggers. Hold up two fingers to make the peace sign, or drop objects by just opening your hand – just like in real life.

Sensor fusion

Each controller uses 87 sensors to track hand position, finger position, motion, and pressure to determine user intent. All of these signals, combined with fine-tuned software and algorithms, give us a better understanding of how a player is holding and using the controllers.

Throwing

Enabling natural and accurate open-handed throwing was a high priority for the team, and we used every sensor at our disposal. Optical and motion sensors provide velocity and trajectory, capacitive and force sensors help determine the intended release point, and our fine-tuned algorithms and software bring it all together into a usable input / output. The end result is an intuitive and natural-feeling throw.

Designed specifically for open-handed interactions and longer play sessions.

TECH SPECS

Displays

Dual 1440 x 1600 LCDs, full RGB per pixel, ultra-low persistence global backlight illumination (0.330ms at 144Hz)

Framerate

80/90/120/144Hz

Optics

Double element, canted lens design

Field of View (FOV)

Optimized eye relief adjustment allows a typical user experience 20º more than the HTC Vive

Inter-pupillary Distance (IPD)

58mm – 70mm range physical adjustment

Ergonomic Adjustments

Head size, eye relief (FOV), IPD, speaker positions. Rear cradle adapter included.

Connections

5m tether, 1m breakaway trident connector. USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, 12V power

Tracking

SteamVR 2.0 sensors, compatible with SteamVR 1.0 and 2.0 base stations

Audio

Built-in: 37.5mm off-ear Balanced Mode Radiators (BMR), Frequency Response: 40Hz – 24KHz, Impedance: 6 Ohm, SPL: 98.96 dBSPL at 1cm.

Aux Headphone Out 3.5mm

The New VR is expected to be launched in India later in the month of June and the expected price in India is yet to be disclosed by the company.

With the reveal of Index, Valve is saying that they plan to release a “flagship VR game” at some point this year, but—incredibly—still aren’t ready to offer any details at all (not even a name, IP, or genre), even as Index is available for pre-order and then launch within the next month.

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