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Valve Index VR headset revealed, more info coming in May

The Valve Index headset
The upcoming Valve Index virtual reality headset. Valve

Valve launched a teaser website for the Valve Index headset Friday evening — confirming that the company is working on its own virtual reality headset.

Rumors that a standalone Valve VR headset is on the way intensified last November, when leaked images revealed prototype versions of the device. The images revealed two visible cameras and integrated headphones; sources claimed that it would feature a 135-degree field of view compared to the 110-degree field of view of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and resolution that would match the HTC Vive Pro. The VR headset was also rumored to be bundled with Valve’s Knuckles controllers and a Half-Life VR game, which may be a prequel to the series instead of the long-awaited Half-Life 3.

Valve teamed up with HTC on the HTC Vive, which was rolled out in 2016, and the HTC Vive Pro, which was released last year. The Valve Index will be made solely by the gaming company, and it will challenge the HTC Vive in the VR headset space.

There is not much to go on when looking at the Valve Index teaser website though, which is accompanied with text reading “Upgrade your experience” and the May 2019 date. The Verge lit up the image of the VR headset, and discovered that the device will have as many as four wide-angle cameras. This supposedly suggests that it will have inside-out tracking, a feature also found in the Oculus Quest that allows players to move around spaces without requiring base stations or external tracking cameras.

The Valve Index also has an adjustment slider, which The Verge assumes is for inter-pupillary distance, or IPD. The feature allows people to tweak VR headsets if their eyes are closer together or further apart than average, to make the experience more comfortable.

Several questions remain regarding the Valve Index though, primarily if it will be a standalone VR headset or if it will require being hooked up to a high-end PC. It is also unclear why Valve decided to pursue the development of its own VR headset when it already had a partnership in place with HTC. The May 2019 date, meanwhile, may be the device’s release date, or it could be an unveiling of more information.

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