About a month ago, Valve tried to work on its own VR headset separate from the HTC Vive and Vive Pro, but still compatible with all currently available Steam VR games. Now Valve has finally released a lot of details about the index, including some new and unusual abilities.
Starting with the headset itself, the index seems ready to use the HTC Vive Pro with specifications such as two LCD displays that provide each eye with a resolution of 1440×1600, just like a Vive Pro. However, the key step in Valve is to support refresh rates up to 120 Hz (30 Hz higher than Vive Pro), with 144 Hz experimental mode even higher.
This increased refresh rate can be a blessing to those who usually feel sick. Using VR as any type of visual delay or jitter is often a major cause for motion sickness caused by VR. The index also changes the way audio is handled, as the index does not have built-in earphones, but with special "off-ear radiators" that are specifically designed to be approximately one centimeter away from the ears to deliver more natural and immersive sound.
On the outside, the index also has two outboard 960 x 960 cameras. But even with these cameras, the index still requires a pair of base stations to support general motion tracking and VR in the space scale. Because the index does not have an optional wireless adapter like HTC does, you'll need to connect the headset to a nearby PC using the supplied 5-meter (5-meter) tear-off cable from the Index.
As far as the base stations of the index are concerned, it is somewhat curious that Valve does so The most recent trend in VR headsets has been to use outboard cameras to track the movements of your hands and body while providing a simpler and more rational set-up. To counter this, Valve claims that its base station 2.0 provides more accurate tracking and a wider field of view, covering a 400 percent larger area than just Vive's original base stations with just two base stations. If that's not enough, Valve says it's possible to integrate up to four Total Base Stations in a single VR setup to cover an area of 10 square meters.
The biggest change to the index, however, may be the new controllers, which include a redesigned key layout and tracking system and a staggering 87 sensors integrated into each controller. So what does Valve do with all these sensors? Track each movement of your hand and finger to bring a realistic tactile experience to the VR.
Each controller has sensors that detect how hard you press each controller, while other sensors track your fingers so you can do things like pick up items or throw things in a much more realistic and intuitive manner. The controllers even have a fabric strap so you can open your hands without dropping the controllers.
Initially, the index's controller is compatible with all existing Steam VR games, but Valve says it is also working with developers to take advantage of the controller's additional features, including the grip detection and the new multifunction track -Button.
Although it's hard to say much more without really testing Valve's new headset, the index seems to take a big step toward VR. Unfortunately, like most desktop-based VR setups these days, the index is not cheap. The headset can be purchased for as little as $ 500 and can be used with previous Vive devices. The entire kit, with its two base stations and a pair of controllers (which seems like an essential accessory), costs $ 1,000.
Pre-orders for the Index will be launched tomorrow (1 May). Deliveries are expected to arrive on June 28th.