Valve Deckard VR Headset: 15+ Things You Need to Know

In this article, we will cover what we know about Valve’s rumored Valve Deckard VR headset. Based on what we have seen in hidden code and teases on SteamVR and Valve, we think we know how the next brand-new Valve VR headset might look.

Here’s a quick overview of the contents of this article: 

We’ll update this guide once we get more details on the Valve Deckard VR headset. In the meantime, feel free to leave your thoughts on this headset in the comments section below.

Must-read: HTC Vive Pro 2 vs HP Reverb G2 vs Valve Index: Comparison

What is the Valve Deckard VR Headset?

The Valve Deckard (codename only so far) is Valve’s anticipated upcoming VR headset currently under development at Valve’s headquarters.

We expect the Valve Deckard to be a standalone VR headset, meaning it will have a built-in wireless functionality. This would make it a direct Meta Quest 2 competitor, which is the top VR headset of all time. This is a big deal, since Valve owns the SteamVR gaming platform. A headset able to play games made for this platform would bring hundreds of new VR games to the standalone world.

valve deckard vr headset
The Valve Index design might give us hints at what the Deckard will look like.

The Backstory 

The VR world has gone crazy over the much-talked-about Valve Index 2, also known as the Valve Deckard. Here’s a quick backstory to the Valve Deckard VR headset that built it all up. 

YouTuber Brad Lynch, on his YouTube channel, SadlyItsBradley, published a video covering the features of Oculus products. 

Just 5 minutes after posting the video, Brad’s friend with username m3gagluk found an attention-grabbing string related to the Valve Index 2 in SteamVR files.

But what’s so interesting about the string?

Well, the string had the Valve Index 2 codename of Deckard, present in SteamVR files since last January.

A whopping nine months later, thanks to m3gagluk, the information came to the notice of the public.

Brad and his friend looked through all the files of SteamVR, the different branches and versions between last January and this past September, and uncovered an abundance of information about the headset.

The codename Deckard was first found in a Lighthouse driver file in the binaries. Binaries are basically the ways applications on different operating systems access the driver. Valve seems to have failed to encrypt the codename file, leaving it vulnerable to leaks.

The fact that SteamVR code contains all these references is a big deal. It means a legitimate headset is under development and close enough to release that it is built into the code already.

Leaked Information and Probable Features of the Valve Deckard VR Headset

The following includes leaked information and probable features of the Valve Deckard VR headset, as found in the driver file by Brad:

  • Input Profile
  • Proof of Concept 
  • Prism
  • VRLink
  • Headstrap
  • Standalone 
  • Deckard Applications
  • XR Desktop System
  • LENSCAL Update
  • Dual-Tracking Mode

Input Profile

The first string in the list is the Input Profile – {deckard}/input_profile.json. Every SteamVR headset has an input file attached to it. 

The Input Profile function tells the SteamVR of user actions on the VR headset, such as pressing the input button or slider. The fact that Deckard is listed probably means that Valve is internally testing out controllers for the headset on their platform.

Deckard POC-A/POC-C

POC stands for Proof Of Concept. When the YouTuber first publicized the string on Twitter, many people were skeptical of its connection to the earlier prototype design (designed before the Valve Index) called Waiter.

However, the 1.18 file update on SteamVR in June clarified this with the addition of the POC-C string, the third version of POC between January and June. Beyond this, people also found a bunch of other systems out of which the Valve Internal Menu stood out. 

Within the Valve Internal Menu is an option named Prism. Not much is known about Prism, except it already exists in the Valve Index file on SteamVR. 

Since the feature was added to the file along with the POC string, it indicates that Prism is going to be a critical part of the Deckard design. 

Some of the other options in the Valve Internal Menu are as follows:

  • Enable web helper debugger
  • Always show Internal Settings action
  • New Desktop
  • Enable Windows View
  • Show Developer Panel Overlay
  • Enable 3DoF Fallback
  • Block Oculus SDK on all 
  • Block Oculus SDK on OpenVR launch options
  • Standalone System Layer
  • Vertical offset (cm)

VRLink

The VRLink folder contains a file that is basically a library for the WiFi driver of the device. A specific mention was given to the 160 M Hz tag that allows you to access WiFi 6 AX, an improved WiFi technology with a focus on efficiency and performance. 

The AC version of WiFi 6 AX has two antennas, one at the front and one at the back. The purpose of the dual-antenna WiFi 6 AX is to connect the VR headset wirelessly to a PC. 

The two antennas track the data based on the position of the head. For instance, if the data source is close to the front antenna, then it will receive the data ahead of the rear antenna. 

Headstrap

The headstrap patent of the headset, as found by Brad, walks over the following.

  • Variable focal length lenses for people with myopia, hypermetropia, astigmatism
  • Eye-tracking module
  • Head-tracking module for predictive rendering
  • Internal Measuring Unit (IMU)
  • New tracking technology with a refresh rate of up to 2000 Hz

These features would all be step improvements over the Meta Quest 2.

Standalone (confirmed)

If you read the list under the Deckard POC-A/POC-C subheading, you will see a Standalone System Layer. 

This essentially indicates that the VR headset will work as a standalone wireless adapter. VR fans have been waiting for another standalone headset to rival the Quest 2 for over a year. Fans were hopeful that HTC would release a standalone option with the HTC Vive Pro 2, Focus 3, or Vive FLOW, but that did not happen.

Deckard Applications

This is one of the big reveals in the SteamVR code about the Valve Deckard VR headset. 

Brad noticed a string in the Linux arm binary, {deckard}/deckard_applications.vrmanifest, which is basically a new feature that integrates all the other new findings. When implemented on Deckard, it will boot the headset and open up default apps like Room Setup or XR Desktop. 

XR Desktop System

Heavily funded by Valve to build advanced VR products and technology, Valve’s XR Desktop system is currently under development. It is much like Collabora’s Extended Reality (XR) project.

This system uses human-computer interactions from wearables and computer technology to form real-and-virtual combined environments. An interesting point to note is that the XR Desktop system only works on the Linux Operating System. The Quest is built on the Android operating system, but SteamVR runs on Linux.

XR Desktop creates a desktop environment purely for VR, which allows users to multitask by switching between applications. 

LENSCAL Update

LENSCAL update is one of the hidden debug options Brad found in the file. LENSCAL stands for Lens Calibration, which is an internal testing command for Valve. This option might be used to activate the LCD lenses in Deckard’s variable focal length system.

Another leak suggests that users who wear glasses may find a set of options to optimize the optics and eliminate the need for corrective lenses.

As this is one of the biggest pains for Quest users, this will be a huge draw if the Valve Index 2, or rather the Deckard, comes with this feature.

Dual-Tracking Mode

A new tracking system called dual-tracking mode is set to make its way into the VR headset market with Deckard. The system doesn’t require any base station, meaning it doesn’t require a user to mount sensors in the corners of the room. 

So what does it have instead? Well, more and more VR companies are now switching to this new tracking system where headsets are equipped with built-in cameras that use computer vision algorithms for inside-out tracking. The algorithm used for inside-out tracking is termed Simultaneous Location And Mapping (SLAM).

This will allow for tracking high refresh rates up to 2000 Hz, which will further enhance the speed of the split rendering feature. 

However, a new string found in the driver file mentions the Lighthouse LED sequence, signaling the addition of support base stations if deemed necessary.

Also read: Varjo Aero VR Headset Features: The Ultimate Guide

All of these snippets are small by themselves, but they hint at a big and bright future for Valve.

Specifications of the Valve Deckard VR Headset

Below are all of the Valve Deckard specifications that we know so far.

Processor

The Valve Deckard VR headset is likely to have a 12-core or 4-core Qualcomm XR SSC SFC with a 4-core chip.

There are some advantages to having the SSC on board the VR headset. It allows for the reproduction of visuals and easy access to a WiFi chip that lets you connect to any WiFi-enabled PC.

Comfort strap

The comfort strap looks to have a few dials that will let users adjust the visual acuity, as there have been issues with the lenses. The focus, however, should be on ensuring there is as little light play as possible.

Y-Grade 2 strap

Valve Deckard VR Headset: 15+ Things You Need to Know
Y-Grade 2 strap design (Screenshot from YouTube, SadlyItsBradley)

If you are a high-end PCVR user, I’m sure you will love this. Valve had earlier promised of a wireless solution for the Valve Index, but since it has already been over a year since the release of the Valve and no real update on the strap, they might have dropped the plan. 

Y-Grade 2 has four times higher bandwidth than Y-Grade 1, which was used in HTC Vive’s wireless adapter. Also, the Y-Grade 2 strap has both the upstream and downstream multiple-input-multiple-output. 

Display

The Deckard may have a 10,000-nits display, which is roughly ten times brighter than a smartphone. Additionally, the display supports a variable refresh rate for which Valve already has a patent, with a programmable microOLED display with a variable refresh rate for VR. The Deckard display would support 10-bit color and HDR capability. 

Backplane features

The programmable microOLED lets you build the OLED display pixels on a silicon backplane. It is designed by different manufacturers and enables you to add pre-program features in the real-time design depending on the backplane design. 

The window size of the reconfigurable 2K AMOLED microdisplay of the Deckard ranges from 512 x 512 to 2K x 2K resolution. The variable refresh rates for these sizes are up to 500 Hz and 120 Hz, respectively. 

On a 4K resolution AMOLED microdisplay, there would be a tiny window at the center, or somewhere near, that would require high bandwidth.

But anything outside that would require less bandwidth.

Global and Rolling Shutter Illumination

In the global shutter illumination, all the pixels line up at once. By doing so, all the pixels of an image are captured at the same time, which reduces the motion blur.

Rolling shutter essentially means that each row of pixels starts and ends its exposure to the sensor slightly offset from its successor by rolling wave to wave and grain to grain.

Global Aging Compensation 

The Global Aging Compensation concept was again patented by Valve. The idea behind this is to ensure a long life for the OLED display so that the headset is fit for long time use. 

The Valve Deckard will hit the market with a huge consumer base and the compensation idea makes sense as Valve would release new updates, keeping the headsets in good shape for users to make the most of the new features.

Natural knuckle controllers

Valve Deckard VR Headset: 15+ Things You Need to Know
Valve Deckard natural knockle controllers design ( Screenshot from YouTube, SadlyItsBradley)

The natural knuckle controllers are one of the key takeaways from the research on the product so far. The focus here is predominantly on the thumbsticks (much like the SteamDeck) and modifying the touchpad center shape to more of a tiny circle than a pill.

Finally, Valve looks to be working on a new sensor arrangement for more accurate finger tracking.

Is the Information about the Valve Deckard VR Headset Legitimate?

Well, as most of the claims made by Brad in his video are based on his findings from the driver on StamVR and from the patents he found around the headset, all this seems to be real and happening.

Brad got all the information from the SteamVR beta update that added a lot of new strings and libraries which is again an indication of the legitimacy of everything we put here.

Note that, we have stated these facts about the new Valve Deckard VR headset solely based on the claims of Brad and m3gag. However, we tried to simplify the concepts as much as we could for your understanding of the Deckard features.

You may want to watch out the videos we referred to for creating this post for yourself for more information.

Valve Deckard: Standalone PC VR is COMING!
Valve's Deckard VR HMD has NEW Leaks!

Related: HTC Vive Flow: Everything You Need to Know

Valve Deckard Release Date

So the leaks and information are out there. When will the Valve Deckard VR headset release to the general public? The latest leaks suggest that Valve is currently procuring and bringing together parts for a mass production effort.

A recent leak suggests that Valve is able to accomplish the 10,000 nits brights requirement that they desire on the headset. This would be great news for buyers.

Based on this information, we suspect a Valve Deckard release date sometime around the summer of 2022. Valve’s closest competitors – HTC and Oculus – did not announce new standalone headsets in 2021. This is a good thing for Valve, as it builds more anticipation towards the Deckard release.

Valve is also releasing the Steam Deck, a portable SteamVR game player, in early 2022. It makes sense to get those into the public’s hands before starting to advertise a new standalone VR headset.

As soon as we hear any more news on the release date of the Deckard, we will update this guide.

Final Thoughts!

Well, that’s a lot of information to digest, especially on the technical front.

I did extensive research into the Valve Deckard on the web, but I want to acknowledge that Brad’s work in digging up so much information on the secretive Valve Deckard made mine much easier.

We will update this article as and when we get more information about the Valve Deckard VR headset. And of course, you will find all the official information about the product after its launch by Valve. So please do come back for the latest updates on the headset.

Any thoughts about the Valve Deckard VR headset?

Let us know in the comments section down below. Cheers!

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