Brad Lynch has described his SadlyItsBradly YouTube channel as a speculation and prediction channel focusing on the next generation VR hardware, and it has been providing some of the most insightful and detailed VR hardware analysis in the XR industry. Lynch has been fusing together patent research, sources from the supply chain and wider XR industry, expert interviews, data mining techniques of import records and decompiled software updates to discover clues about future hardware, and in some cases leaks of CAD drawings for the Meta Quest Pro (1 2 3 4) and Quest 3. I had a chance to do an interview with him a year ago to understand more about his journey into doing this unique blend of hardware analysis, YouTube commentary, and independent reporting. In the past year he’s proven himself to have cultivated some amazing insider sources and consistently break news about the latest hardware developments. This post will summarize some of his reporting over the past year (with a full timeline down below), and set a broader context for my October 2021 interview with him.
The fact that Lynch got 17 out of 23 of his Meta Quest Pro predictions explicitly confirmed to be correct during Meta Connect made me want to dig up this more speculative conversation that I had with him nearly a year ago now.
I interviewed Lynch on October 22, 2021, which was 3 weeks after October 1, 2021 where he summarized 6 months of research and reporting on Valve’s Deckard, the standalone VR headset Lynch claimed was in development at Valve that was then independently validated by Ars Technica. On September 28, 2021 reporter Sam Machkovech got confirmation from Valve that Lynch was on the right track with an anonymous quote saying, “Sources familiar with matters at Valve have confirmed to Ars that information in the wild is legitimate—at least in terms of products being made within Valve’s headquarters, even if those products don’t ultimately see retail launches.”
In other words, there’s no guarantee the Valve Deckard standalone VR headset will ever see the light of day, but Lynch’s reporting catalyzed a tacit confirmation that they are indeed prototyping next-generation, standalone VR hardware. Valve News Network’s Tyler McVicker tipped me off to a Steam Dev Days 2014 talk by Robin Walker where he talked about how Valve will deliberately let certain information leak for fans like Lynch to piece together in a sort of alternative reality game, in order to build grassroots buzz but also get feedback from their fans.
I wanted to hear a bit more about Lynch’s journey into doing this type of speculative VR hardware analysis, and my October 2021 interview with him covers his journey into do these types of predictions. But because of the speculative and predictive nature of these work, then many of the things we talked about a year ago have not fully come to pass — but yet at the same time are still totally relevant today. This includes the future of micro OLEDs and micro LEDS display technologies, new types of varifocal and pancake lenses, the next generation modular VR HMD designs, and the types of XR hardware trends that Lynch has been seeing across all of the major XR hardware producers.
Lynch has been a big advocate for the importance of OLED microdisplays (μOLED) are predicts that they are going to figure prominently in the next phase of VR hardware as it decouples from smartphone-based screen components. After the recording of my interview, he went on to interview the eMagin CEO on OLED Microdisplays, scouted out the MeganeX HDR 5.2K microOLED at CES 2022, recapped the Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) VR/AR Display Forum, and attended the Society for Information Display (SID) Displayweek Conference with a full livestream breakdown.
Valve still hasn’t officially announced anything around the Deckard over the past year, and we still have yet to see a μOLED XR device launch in 2022. But the XR industry has started to move beyond key component parts that were developed for other contexts, specifically the display technologies primarily designed for mobile phones.
If you want to get some detailed analysis for what’s to come for the next generation of XR hardware, then be sure to tune into Lynch’s SadlyItsBradly YouTube channel, follow @SadlyItsBradly on Twitter for his latest threads and incremental reporting, support him on Patreon to get a first look at some of this more in-depth reporting, and check out his SadlyinReality blog for more in-depth hardware breakdowns (that sometimes have delayed cross-posts from his Patreon).
For more highlights of VR hardware coverage from Lynch across all of his channels, then see down below.
- September 27, 2021: [Video] Valve Deckard: Standalone PC VR is COMING!
- September 28, 2021: [Ars Technica] A new “standalone” Valve VR headset teased by deep SteamVR file dive
- October 1, 2022: [Livestream] Valve Deckard LIVE Q&A – I figured out EVERYTHING!
- October 24, 2021: [Tweet] “Oculus Quest Pro and productivity. Found by the wonderful Samulia”
- November 5, 2021: [Livestream] VR Research Dump – [Display Supply Chain Consultants] DSCC VR/AR Conference Recap
- November 19, 2021: [Imagine Optix Video] Liquid Crystal Polymer Optics
- December 3, 2021: [Video] Valve’s Vader/Deckard VR Headsets… with Apple?
- January 3, 2022: [Video] OLED MICRODISPLAYS at CES 2022! [MeganeX HDR 5.2K microOLED HEADSET]
- January 20, 2022: [Video] Vader to Deckard – a 2017 Valve Interview says A LOT
- March 27, 2022: [Tweet] “Qualcomm admits near-term evolution of VR is: microdisplays, pancake lenses, HD passthrough for MR…”
- March 28, 2022: [Video] Microsoft’s Metaverse Plans are Sad…
- March 29, 2022: [Video] Meta Cambria is Ready for Mass Production!
- April 7, 2022: [Tweet] “THIS is what Meta Cambria will look like…”
- April 12, 2022: [Tweet] “Valve was officially awarded it’s “VR Split Rendering” patent by the US Patent Office…“
- April 13, 2022: [Tweet] “Meta Cambria (SeaCliff) will release later this year… this is exactly what the final PVT model looks like”
- April 17, 2022: [Video] “Pico Neo 4” has LEAKED!
- May 15, 2022: [Video] I Interviewed the Leading OLED MICRODISPLAYS Company! [eMagin CEO ]
- May 20, 2022: [Livestream] SID Displayweek Recap/Q&A
- JUNE 1, 2022: [Patreon Post] Meta Cambria – Censorship OFF
- JUNE 1, 2022: [Patreon Photos] Cambria Picture Slideshow
- June 9, 2022: [Video] Meet the Legendary Inventor of SPRITES and AR Displays! [Karl Guttag]
- June 16, 2022: [Tweet] Valve Deckard [Patent Photos]
- June 22, 2022: [Blog post] Steam VR 1.23.2 Datamine
- June 22, 2022: [Blog repost of Patreon post] Meta Cambria – Censorship OFF
- June 27, 2022: [Blog] Meta’s Mirror Lake is Reflecting the Future – Part 1
- June 30, 2022: [Blog] Meta’s Mirror Lake is Reflecting the Future – Part 2
- July 6, 2022: [Blog] Meta Cambria Controllers, Firmware v43, Project Simile and more
- July 23, 2022: [Blog] The Final Meta Quest Pro Analysis
- July 27, 2022: [Video] Meta Quest Pro – My Final Predictions
- August 15, 2022: [Video] Pico 4 wants to take down the Quest 2
- September 21, 2022: [Blog] Pico 4 Event (Leaked) Transcript
- September 28, 2022: [Video] THIS is the Meta Quest 3
- October 4, 2022: [Video] QUEST 3 In-Depth (Follow Up Video)
- Oct 5, 2022: [Video] XR2 Gen 2 will bring MASSIVE Gains!
- October 12, 2022: [Tweet] “Current expectation [of the Quest 3] (via my sources) is Connect 2023 launch”
- Oct 13, 2022: [Video] Quest Pro: Nearly Missing BINGO
This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.Music: Fatality
[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. It's a podcast that's looking at the structures and forms of immersive storytelling and the future of spatial computing. You can support me on Patreon at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So in today's episode, I'm featuring an interview that I did with Brad Lynch back a year ago on Friday, October 22nd, 2021. This was when Brad was doing a lot of his reporting on Valve's Deckard, so Valve's potential next generation VR headset that he has been digging into different hardware strings that he's extrapolating from firmware and then looking at patents and trying to piece together a larger puzzle. So he had done a number of different reporting, and actually, Ars Technica validated some of his reporting on September 28, 2021, where they said that sources familiar with matters at Valve have confirmed to Ars that information in the wild, as reported by Brad, is legitimate, at least in terms of products being made within Valve's headquarters, even if those products don't ultimately see retail launches. So Valve essentially confirmed that he's on the right track with reporting on some of the different stuff that's happening with this next generation headsets for the Deckard, which the few days after that on October 1st, he did a huge report on everything he had known for the last six months. And it was soon after that, that I touched base with them. This was a few weeks before Connect 2021, and that was where Facebook formally rebranded from Facebook to Meta. Since that time, Brad has been doing lots of additional types of research, everything from looking at import-export reports to be able to get information around the GPUs and CPUs and the chipsets that are in these future iterations of devices that are being imported and then also getting direct links of CAD files. And so Brad had actually reported on what was known as the Project Cambria, but MetaQuest Pro, full CAD files that he's showing, and then also has already published the CAD files for the Quest 3, which is aimed to come out sometime next year. And so There's a bit of a technical analysis of looking at all these leaks of some of these design documents, but also getting industry sources. He will have people come to him and leak different information. 17 out of his 24 predictions around the MetaQuest Pro were on the dot. Some of them were not explicitly confirmed, so there may actually be a little bit more than that. But he was just going from things that were being explicitly confirmed. Again, this interview that I did with Brad was about a year ago, but the nature of doing this kind of speculative prediction reporting on stuff that hasn't happened yet, it's a little bit unsure as to how things are actually going to go. Now, a year later, I had a chance to go back and listen to this conversation. see some of the follow-on reporting that Brad's been doing. He's actually been going into display technology conferences and doing interviews with people from Imagine and doing a lot more of this technical deep dives into the future generations of the hardware. Because a lot of the different hardware that's been done up to this point with VR has been on the backs of other industries of, say, taking phone displays. Now that the industry is maturing to the point where you're actually having devices and displays that are being developed specifically for the VR industry, then you have this whole new generation of different stuff that's coming up with micro-LEDs and micro-LEDs and these new display lens technologies. There's a lot of different ways that he's doing supply chain analysis of trying to get a sense of where things are at, but also the cutting edge of the research and development and extracting different patents and then digging into the firmware updates to get little clues as to what's coming in the future iterations of the hardware. There's a lot of analysis that he's doing. It's a speculative channel, but it's also a deep dive and very educational to be able to get up to speed as to all the latest of the next generation of XR technologies. So overcoming all that and more on today's episode of The Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Brad happened on Friday, October 22nd, 2021. Again, this is about a year ago, just to orient people. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:04:14.195] Brad Lynch: My name is Brad. My online moniker is sadly it's Bradley. And right now I'm focused on doing content related to what companies are working on the near future VR hardware wise. But what I'm really doing in the VR industry is constantly fluctuating, but I'll probably get into that a little bit later.
[00:04:32.645] Kent Bye: Okay. Yeah. Maybe you could give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into VR.
[00:04:39.209] Brad Lynch: Yeah, sure. So, um, I've been doing VR stuff since late 2015 officially, I was kind of watching the VR industry from sort of a far away view. I remember growing up in high school, I was hearing about all this Oculus developer kit stuff. And I was like, Oh, that's pretty cool. That's, that's some cool stuff. But it wasn't really until I heard that, um, I'm gonna be honest, straight up forward. I'm a bit of a Valve fan. And when I heard that Valve was also looking into the VR hardware space with their own product, I was like, huh, I should really, really take a look at this VR stuff a little bit. And then there was the opportunity where they were going to do a contest with IGN. And for anyone that submitted an idea for an interesting VR experience, they would have a chance to fly out to Seattle and try out what was then the Vive Free, which is pretty close to the consumer version of the first Vive. And I was one of the lucky winners that got to do that. And really that night I was there, I spent probably like four hours in VR. it really changed me in a very profound way. And I realized, wow, I can't believe how long it took me to realize how big this resurgence of consumer VR was. And I just spent a lot of time. They sent me home with a vibe and I started doing YouTube content, pretty basic stuff, just showing off the games that indie devs were making at the time. And my YouTube channel blew up. And from there, I just started doing a lot of other ventures based on what people would allow me to do because I just, I kept seeing a lot more potential than just making game videos. I want to do more stuff.
[00:06:20.219] Kent Bye: What was your award-winning idea?
[00:06:23.705] Brad Lynch: It was honestly terrible. Um, honestly, it was not that good. I really, it was something to do with like using your hands and like, you would have like different environments. Like one example was like a, a farm with a bunch of animals and you would create music with your hands, like conductor. And like, it was honestly a really simple, dumb idea, but, um, there wasn't much competition, I guess. And so, yeah.
[00:06:47.586] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think maybe one of the first things that I came across, things that you were involved with was that you were a winner of some sort of like VR game competition. Like, I don't even know what game you were playing, or maybe you could give a bit more backstory as to like the game that you played in this tournament and you ended up winning this tournament.
[00:07:03.789] Brad Lynch: Yeah, so in 2019, I got invited with some other people to compete in WCG 2019 for a VR World Championship. And the game they were using was called Final Assault. And that was made by Phaserlock Interactive, Phaserlock Interactive. They made a couple of VR games in their history. And it was basically a top-down strategy game where you use your hands to actually draw paths out like a strategy game. You would pilot planes to draw World War II flight bombing paths and stuff. And yeah, this time I was like, wow, this is a really cool opportunity for me to really make a name for myself. Because before VR, even, I'm a big fan of Dota 2. And there's a big, bustling esports scene for that. They constantly have the highest prize pools for their tournaments and everything. And I love being part of that esports environment. So when I saw this huge tournament, and I got invited to be a part of that, but for VR, one of the first big ones, I'm like, Oh, I want to spend hours of my day, like training for this. I want to take this as seriously as I can. And I enjoyed the game too, which helped because it's like, I really enjoy like strategy games or MOBAs and yeah, all that work paid off and I was able to win that competition in China in 2019.
[00:08:23.493] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, I know you've been doing a lot of different live streams and digging into a lot of the tech stuff. And I think at the beginning of one of the live streams, you had like a five minute video that was really recapping what VR meant to you. And maybe before we dive into some of the more technical weeds, I'd love to have you describe what you were trying to do and giving a, almost like a love letter to what VR has meant to you as an individual and how it's been a part of your own journey.
[00:08:47.773] Brad Lynch: Yeah, like I said a little bit earlier, I've been doing a lot of different stuff in VR, not just YouTube, not just the stuff we've already covered, but like the stream we're talking about was my big Deckard stream where I pretty much put together six months of research of what I believe Valve has been working on for their next consumer VR headset. And I really felt that this was the perfect time for me to give a recap of everything I've done because I felt like all the research I've done to put into this mega stream was like, it felt like all the work I've done previously to understand VR as a medium led up to that stream. But yeah, like I said, it started with YouTube. Then I got really into mixed reality videos, similar to like, most people know Live, the application or platform that people do a lot of like stuff with Beat Saber, where you put yourself in a game, you record really interactive videos that really give viewers a better sense of what VR is like. But before Live was a thing, it started with Fantastic Contraption who really did that. And I did some experiments when Fantastic Contraption added that. And then later on, Valve added it to the Unity SteamVR plugin. And then like almost every, at that time, and it's not so much anymore, every single Unity VR game started implementing mixed reality if you had the know-how or the time and patience to set up a camera rig system. So I spent like at least a year helping out other giant YouTube channels or companies that were very interested in doing something with VR and mixed reality, because I was addicted to it. It was very cool to me at the time. So that was a part of my journey, and it helped me network a bit and sort of talk to people, because that's kind of the best part about what I do, is all the people I get to talk to. I'm talking to you right now. I really respect what you've been doing for so long. But yeah, then it transitioned to the e-sports thing. And when the e-sports thing came out, I'm like, wow, here's another thing I can kind of cement my name in VR's history. And then after that, Half-Life Alex came out. And I loved Half-Life Alyx. I mean, I don't think I've met a VR person that didn't love the Half-Life Alyx, but what I saw happening in the community that was really impressive. And I always have huge respect for modding communities for games. That's kind of like, I'm someone that loves the PC platform and gaming on that platform because all the people that usually come together for free because out of passion to create things. And before the official workshop tools came out for Half-Life Alyx, They were using the SteamVR home tools, which also runs on Source 2, the same game engine that Half-Life Alyx runs on. And they were able to import all the assets from Half-Life Alyx into the SteamVR home tools. And I thought that was incredibly fascinating. And I really wanted to do some experimentation with that. And I did. I loved it. It was super cool. I wasn't really expecting to do anything further with it. But I did it. And then as soon as I put the headset on my little experimental zone, I was just playing around with I was like, I just created something. And then I stepped into it. I It was like a God complex moment. I was like, I want to do more with this. So I literally got back into my manic addicted mode again. This time it was for making maps for Half-Life Alyx. So I would go on to spend those two months learning level design and trying to figure out how to make the most immersive VR levels that I always wanted to see in a VR scale game. And then I released those and those are still in the top 10 of the Half-Life Alyx workshop, which I'm most proud of that more than anything I've ever done, by the way, because there's something really special about creating levels for a game. Even if you, even if it's like just not a game you've worked on, but you just create levels, it really feels like you're pushing your personality in those levels. And when it does well, it feels really good. And I'm very proud of that. And then we come back to I know I'm talking for a while, but there is a lot over five years. But and then we come to now, which is during all of this, I took a long break from YouTube because I wasn't really happy doing YouTube for a very long time. But I felt it was time that I really wanted to come back to YouTube because there was sort of It's kind of like how I felt with level design. I wanted to make something that I felt I wanted to see happen in a game for VR. And then with YouTube, the VR YouTube community changed so much that I wasn't really finding content that I was really interested in watching. So I felt, wow, I'm going to start doing some weird little different content pieces of my own that I would be interested in watching if I was loading up YouTube and stuff. And it was also sort of a side effect of Facebook taking over and I was kind of tired of seeing everything based around the Facebook and Oculus stuff. So yeah, I rebooted the channel. Then I started getting really into, I guess you can say speculative and patent research and figuring out what suppliers are doing in VR and what all these companies that are in the background working on And it made me then addicted to how VR hardware works because we put on these headsets all the time. And we don't even think about all the work that is put into every single tiny aspect of these devices. And the more I read the patents, I would learn how these things work and they fascinate me. And now we're now where people really respect what I'm doing. Even if I'm not right on everything I say, it's been fun. It's been a really fun ride is what I'm trying to say in this huge spiel of words.
[00:14:20.288] Kent Bye: No, I think that was a good recap. And, you know, I'll point to the video where people can see the five minute slideshow version of all that. But it's good to hear a little bit more context on that. And just a quick note on the Half-Life Alyx thing is that, you know, there was a talk that I gave about analyzing the different levels and I invited a couple of architects to be able to break down experiential design. I went through this process of in a similar way going through and really learning all the different tools. And it was a too much of a gap for me between when the half-life Alex came out versus when the official tools came out. There were certainly ways in which people were figuring out stuff, but I felt like so much in that period was like just wasting time where they could have like given more information. information, but you kind of had to hack things together to really figure out how to make anything. So it was really quite a miracle that there's enough people that were able to still figure it out in the absence of all those tools. And it sounds like you were kind of in one of those early phases that really pushed through and committed yourself fully to that. But there's other things that I kind of moved on from rather than, you know, really playing with it. But it was really amazing to be able to actually kind of deconstruct the experiential design that was happening and to interrogate it or modulate it or switch it up. So I think that kind of ethos of the open platforms and building stuff on Linux, which I know that's something that you've had an interest as well, but that approach of modding enabled type of experiences. And yeah, so I just love to hear a few more thoughts on that period of pushing through a lot of those, that time period of not really having the proper tool set to be able to even do what you were doing.
[00:15:49.772] Brad Lynch: Yeah, I mean, I personally can't take credit for the work that all the people put together that made the unofficial tools, but I can talk about my experiences working in those unofficial tools. And I'm glad you brought up, because I almost forgot because my brain wanted to forget the troubles I had to go through. But like, we didn't have correct lighting in the tools for most of the time. So a lot of times, if we wanted to figure out if the lighting was good for an area, we would have to compile the entire map and then load up in Half-Life Alyx. Which that might sound a little frustrating from words, but also you have to realize this was also running in SteamVR home. So we would also have to reboot the entire Half-Life Alyx game and then load the console and load our map and get to the point we're wanting to. Whereas the official tools, everything is done in Half-Life Alyx engine. You don't even need to compile a lot of things. You see the lighting live in the actual editor. There was a lot of things like that, where you just constantly would put stuff that you think would look a certain way in the map with these unofficial tools. But then you would load up Half-Life Alyx and be like, well, crap, half the geometry isn't actually loading, or it doesn't actually exist in the assets that we thought they did, or the lighting's just way off and all this stuff. So it definitely added a lot of friction to making it. But I think that is more, again, of a testament to how enjoyable it is to create something for VR, like something like that, because Even though it was just such a big pain at that time, I still just kept pushing forward and making something. I really, because when things did work, the feelings were just the most highs when the things I, I really liked. And yeah, I, I, I tell people all the time, even back then, I was just like, people were asking, should I wait for the official tools? I'm like, if you want to blow yourself away and really like be proud of something, I told them at that time, just go through it because it really is. It feels good.
[00:17:42.626] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, let's move on to this whole transition into being a bit of a tech analyst and investigator and digging into some of the stuff. I know Tyler McVicker is another person who has done some similar things in terms of reporting on valve, but also digging deep into the code. And there's a whole community of people. And I should ask first, have you had a chance to watch that talk by Robin Walker from steam dev days in 2014? Did you get a chance to watch that?
[00:18:06.016] Brad Lynch: I actually did watch it like the day after it was brought up to me. Yeah. It's. it's actually because ever since I watched that, I'm like, I kind of have like a tinfoil hat every time something gets leaked or whatever. Like, I can't take it seriously that it was an accident anymore. Cause I'm like, Oh, well they, they probably put this up there for me or someone else to find it, you know? But, um,
[00:18:26.997] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's a bit of like an alternative reality game that Valve plays with its community. Tyler McVicker tipped me off and he said, look, if you really want to understand how Valve operates, watch this video because Robin Walker described their whole strategy. And in that talk, he's basically like, we don't talk to external media. And it's like true whenever I try to like send an email it just gets ignored and but I think the big part with what drives valve is being engaged to their community. So if you have like an angle where you're engaged with from a community perspective, then there's ways in which that you can have either more of a direct dialogue for them or there's ways in which that they You have source to code that's out there, but they let things leak out and they're totally okay with it because they like the buzz that is created with things to some of the stuff that you created. It almost becomes like this free marketing where they'd be so secretive, but they leak stuff out. And then when you discover it, it's like you discover this treasure that has been left by these alternative reality game creators.
[00:19:23.150] Brad Lynch: Right. I people ask me all the time whenever I because there's constantly stuff I'm trying to figure out about their plans or whatever for VR. And the question I get all the time is, do you think Valve hates me? Like they always ask me, do you think Valve hates me? And I tell them, No, I actually don't think they hate me. I think I'm doing something valuable to them because the best example I like to bring up is the Deckard strings was in the simple file. That's not, I mean, it wasn't really that hidden, just no one really took the effort to find it. Since January of this year, like, And then they added another one in June. It's like, I bet you, I say this all the time, but I bet you someone at Valve was like, finally, someone found this Deckard string and is finally piecing together all this information and actually caring about it. Because I know the people that work on VR at Valve are very passionate about it. And they want people to find stuff because, I mean, they're spending tons of R&D and resources on VR. And it's, like I said, it's free marketing for them. The amount of people that are so excited about anything I say about the next Valve product is insanely high. And as that Robin Walker talk mentions, they can gauge interest of what they're doing. Since it's not an announced product, they can pivot at any moment. I'm a little bit harder, obviously for hardware, because, you know, a lot of that stuff's set in stone, but at least by doing my best, and I am always doing my best. Like I'm not, I'm not just trying to throw out everything I find. Like I am trying to piece things together in like the best way I can with my consumer brain. But, um, if I'm doing a good job, I think they're happy. If I'm doing a bad job, maybe they're more upset, obviously, because I don't want to be too extreme and wrong, but I don't think they hate me. That's a lot of people ask.
[00:21:04.799] Kent Bye: I think it was after I watched your Deckard stream and you were kind of wondering why they were doing this or how, and I was like, you should watch this talk. Cause it's like, it's just sort of explains it. And it makes sense. You know, it's frustrating sometimes when you don't get the direct response, but when did this pivot into doing this type of investigation? What was the beginning of that for you? When did it start?
[00:21:25.629] Brad Lynch: You know, I actually don't even remember. I know it was like, it was about like, I said, it was like six months of research and it was about six months ago that I started looking into patents. It was about patents. I started purely with valve hardware patents, because this goes back to my frustration with Facebook hardware overwhelmingly taking over. And, and also not just that, but PCVR hardware in general has been It feels a bit stagnated from a lot of standpoints because there's only a couple of people releasing and some of the people that are releasing hardware products, in my opinion, just don't have the same, I don't know how to put it, but just, it wasn't as much, a lot of products that come out are not as much as a buzz as when the index came out, for example. So, um, yeah, I started looking into some of the valve VR patents that they were publishing. And at the beginning, I will be honest. I was terrible at reading these patents and understanding anything, but I still reported my first video of what I read and try to understand. I didn't expect any of my patent videos, by the way, to do well. I make videos based on what I think is interesting. So I was like, Hey, I'm going to talk about what I found in this patent and see what people do. And then slowly over time, I started getting way better at understanding these technologies and being able to piece things together and started going past not just patents, but started getting into more like research documents that companies are publishing, not just Valve. Because it started with Valve and then started expanding to other companies because people ask me my opinion on what other companies are working on. And it helps I start with Valve because even though Valve are doing some interesting things, a lot of the VR industry is, they're doing a lot of similar stuff for the most part that I'm seeing. It's just like, depending on the price range that they're targeting. But a lot of the VR industry is pivoting to very similar displays, very similar lens technologies. And yeah, it just started and started growing. And then I think the Deckard thing, when I found the Deckard thing and Ars Technica had their sources or whatever, and they confirmed that a lot of my findings are on the right track. That's when people really said, OK, maybe I should pay attention to this tinfoil hat guy that's screaming about leaks all the time and VR and stuff. And since I do enjoy it and people now come up to me and tell me what they find and I can see if it's worth researching and piecing things together. It's just, like I said, it's an ARG. It feels like a, like a constant ARG for me. Like it's addicting.
[00:23:55.683] Kent Bye: Well, one of the things that you were bringing up that I think feels like going to be a big shift as we move forward is this whole concept of the micro OLEDs or the micro LEDs as well, although they're different. But my take of a lot of this stuff has been that a lot of the first phase of virtual reality has been like looking at what's already been developed for say mobile phones. and then taking the same processes and everything and just kind of using that because it was good enough. But the type of form factor and size of like a micro OLED doesn't seem like it'd be very useful for like a phone or something where it's already has an established market. So it seems like we're kind of moving into that phase of like taking the technology from another context and really re-imagining if you were to design it just for a VR context, then this is where you would lead to the smaller form factor, because, you know, you don't want these big things in your faces, but you still want the resolution and all the affordances. And it just is a matter of the optics, it seems like, in order to really take advantage of that. So I'd love to hear your take on it, though, of like, where do the micro OLEDs start to come into the picture here, and how do you see it? Are there other industries out there even using this, or is this something that's very tuned to what the XR applications are going to be?
[00:25:03.668] Brad Lynch: No, yeah, I am a big believer of micro OLED. I do believe we'll start seeing products next year touting this display technology. I completely agree with you, by the way. It has been like a case that VR hardware and especially displays have been pivoting off of. purely what's on the market, what's easy to grab. But as the VR market has grown and a lot of interest in the VR market has grown, a lot of innovation and especially investing has been going on a lot money-wise in the market. We are finally seeing companies that... Because micro displays are not new, actually. They've actually been around for a while, but very dedicated tasks. The biggest use for them, ironically, was a lot of high-end cameras will use micro displays in the little viewfinder. We'll get into that a little bit. But I do think we'll see a lot of OLED micro displays coming out next year. The issue with micro or OLED micro displays is, from what I understand, I've been talking to a lot of people about it, is they still have a little bit of issues with a lot of companies getting successful yields out of the production lines for micro OLED. So we might not see every product next year have them for obvious reasons. But the benefits of a lot of these micro displays are again, so beneficial for VR. It's unfortunate I come to this, but like the Vive Flow unfortunately does not use micro displays, but the form factor that the Vive Flow brings, when we're starting to get leaked images of the Vive Flow, I was like, okay, this would possibly be the first micro display HMD from a big company to release. That didn't turn out to be true. Because that form factor of the live flow with a very good pancake lens would enable micro displays which are usually much smaller than normal displays that are used in VR headsets to work well, finally. Because a lot of issues have been trying to magnify the images without artifacting in these small displays. The Vive Flow is close to what we're going to start seeing when we start actually having micro displays. The Vive Flow only runs at like 1600 by 1600 square per eye. But when we start using these micro displays, which OLED micro display is probably first because micro LED is still very far off in terms of like I only think we have RGB micro LED. It's all like monochrome, red, green, or blue. That's why you see a lot of prototypes for AR glasses. They're usually only in like one color because they're using micro LED, but micro OLED are a bit further than that. And a lot of these displays have higher brightnesses, which are very important when you want to start enabling other display technologies to be possible. An example of that would be varifocal, solid state varifocal lenses need high brightness because a lot of them use stacks of lenses with polarizers. And as you polarize light, the image will be a lot less bright. So you need high brightness displays and these OLEDs are high very high emission, they're emitting their own light. They don't need backlights and do this as well. They take less energy, which is important because everyone's pivoting to a standalone and you need batteries for standalone. And it's like, there's so many benefits of these micro displays coming out. I'm a big believer of them. I've been seeing some companies, what they've been showing off for years, actually, a lot of these micro display companies have been trying to pivot into VR for years. But it's just been a matter of getting the production lines. And there's been leaks in the kernel files, even from Facebook, that they literally have almost 3K per eye displays that are OLED micro displays in the files for that, for example. So these companies are all going to pivot to it. I just think starting next year, but maybe not every product.
[00:28:41.386] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I wanted to dig into a little bit of the both the very focal and the pancake lens, because I think it's another key insight that you did some reporting on that helped me sort of understand that. But you know, there's been some prior work that has been shown on the well, there first take a step back, there's this fundamental problem of the vergence accommodation conflict, meaning that our eyes naturally are looking at different depths. And so this is something that when you look at a VR screen, you're kind of focused at infinity, which is not great for your eyes, which is a big reason why kids under 13, they don't recommend using VR because their eyes are still developing this. And the vergence accommodation conflict can actually potentially stunt some of their development. And it may actually lead to other issues with people who have lots of use within VR as well. That's still yet to be seen for the hardcore users and different eye issues that may come up. But the very focal displays could potentially provide a solution to that to be able to have multiple planes of focus. But the challenge, at least from initially, was that a lot of the initial prototypes are very mechanically based, which takes a lot of energy, which means with the thermal budgets that they have for having things self-contained, It felt like once Oculus made the decision to go all in on the Quest and pretty much abandoned the PC VR, that it seemed like some of the different prototypes they had were maybe lost to, you know, not really pursuing that kind of thing that may have required being connected to a PC to have all the power. But it seems like this new, very focal pancake lens It could be miniaturized. I'm not sure if you think this can actually work in a mobile form factor, or if you still think that there's certain aspects of this technology that fundamentally need the higher power source from a PC VR.
[00:30:20.481] Brad Lynch: Um, I don't think, I think there will be a point where standalone only headsets will be able to get it actually, or at least the solid state of air focal lenses. Cause you can probably create desired ships that purely focuses on that one task. And. And the reason I see that is a lot of companies are sort of pivoting to this solid-state barefocal. Even Apple has a lot of patents that are very similar to Valve's patents. Those patents are very similar to what Oculus has shown off from their work on solid-state barefocal. I don't really think that maybe Oculus gave up on it. I think they probably see value just like Apple and Valve see value in it. It's just been the fact that Oculus themselves have been a race to the cheap or race to the bottom because, you know, these optics are very useful, but they're also not cheap compared to just throwing in either a glass or plastic passive lens system. Yeah, but I know, I think when the first solid state varifocal lens system comes out and people, especially people with glasses, because apparently these systems will be able to adapt for a lot of people that wear glasses without people having to wear glasses or contact lenses. I think when people first put it on and see the value right away, I think the industry will quickly pivot to that. I found a lot of companies working on it in manufacturing these lenses already. I found the possible manufacturer for Apple's. So I'll say Barefocal, if they were to go that route, I totally forgot the name because I've only just started doing a little research on Apple. And with Val, they put a lot of funding into getting this technology for themselves. They funded a company in 2018 called Imagine Optics, and they spent $9 million buying a stake in that company and even signing a manufacturer supply agreement with that company that, hey, we want your supply lines for this product. We will help you build a factory just to build these lenses for us. And it's so important to Valve that this company later last year, because they're a private company, they opened up another round of series investing. And this unknown company, I have no idea officially who this company was, they invested $5 million and Imagine Optics announced that it was a very big company in the AR VR space. that are very useful for what this lens company is doing. And as soon as that happened, Valve got very angry. They slapped a lawsuit on this company. Later, the lawsuit was resolved and all the charges were dropped. But it was really a testament to how much Valve values this Imagine Optics company. I think they did it because they were so worried about this new company coming in. and maybe promising something and taking over their supply line that they had since 2018 before the original index, because I really do think Valve values this technology. And I think a lot of companies do, and they're just trying to find the supply lines to do it.
[00:33:06.453] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, based upon some of your original reporting on the Deckard, you mentioned the Ars Technica that had done their own independent verification of some of those findings that you found, and that basically confirmed that you're on the right path, that they're on this roadmap to building the Deckard, which, I mean, they have the Steam Deck, Right. And then you have the Steam Deckard, but the Deckard seems to be a reference to the Blade Runner character as an AI character. But I think this movement towards using Linux-based systems, but also having different, say, higher-end processing power within something like the Steam Deck, which they say is a mobile PC. And then we have some of those different components that, you know, one of the things that I found really interesting with some of your reporting was this concept of having the HMD, but then having the head strap be a modular thing that you can swap out. If you want to upgrade your PC, you would just upgrade your head strap and then you'd be able to basically treat it like a swappable GPU or CPU, which is really quite an interesting thought to see how if you're not going to be upgrading the optics or anything like that, but you could still do an upgrade and have this more modular approach. And also there's the Project Galea, which I reported on in May of 2021. Conor Russomano was at the Non-Invasive Interfaces Ethical Conservations Conferences and showed the latest prototypes there. And I took that and did an interview with him. And if you Google Project Galea, there's a photo that he had passed along during that talk that I put out into the world. But just the idea of being able to have all these other biometric sensors that are connected to the headstrap, So you have this kind of modular device that you're, if you want to have the BCI features, then maybe you just swap it out for the context that you're using. So maybe you could dig into that a little bit more in terms of this, because it feels a little confusing to me because I don't know if it's a combination of different architectures for processing or how you kind of think of if one's a GPU, one's a CPU, or how do you blend together this off board compute that is in the head strap versus what's on board.
[00:34:57.077] Brad Lynch: Yeah, so I want to get more into those head straps a little bit more, but to pivot to that, I want to explain a little bit of what I think is happening, not just with Valve. I've actually seen a lot of evidence that multiple companies are sort of going this way, especially in the PC VR space. So split rendering is something that seems to be very popularized. You kind of see some basics of this with the Quest 2 and like virtual desktop where they have the Space Warp stuff going on, like I go and put it into that. And also you think about the Quest 2 has its compositor on the headset and can overlay controllers with the chip on the headset and just the PCs transmitting some stuff like that wirelessly or wired in some cases. I think this concept is being sort of taken and put into a higher level. So the Deckard I found in the SteamOS 3, which is the operating system that runs on the Steam Deck, there is a file that is called Deckard.py, which is a Python file. And what it does is it reports all the thermals for a chip inside the Deckard if it was plugged into a Steam Deck, which is interesting in itself. Why would you plug a Deckard into a Steam Deck, you know? But yeah, that was a file in there. And in that file, they literally showed off a lot of the cores that would be built into the actual Deckard unit. And we found out a lot of these cores are related to proprietary cores with a Qualcomm chip.
[00:36:20.388] Kent Bye: But what's weird about it is- You mean, is that Qualcomm?
[00:36:24.230] Brad Lynch: Qualcomm, yeah, sorry. There's a whole meme with me messing that up all the time. Yeah, Qualcomm. So even the XR2 and every other Snapdragon chip has eight cores, but this one with all the proprietary chips in it, it lists 12 CPU cores inside of it. And then I started looking into that and then I started piecing together all the split rendering patents that bow has done. Even some very interesting things such as like advanced upscaling and motion smoothing and even predictive rendering using super high accurate tracking data so that a specialized ship or computer can start rendering a frame in advance based on where your head is about to move ahead of time. So a lot of little tricks to make VR rendering a bit easier for PCs in general. But I started seeing that this was actually a thing that a lot of the industry seems to be very interested in. I got another tip off that another company, I can't really say what yet. I'm out of respect for the person that kind of leaked it to me. But another company seems to be partnering with Qualcomm and AMD to do very similar stuff. And then we even see that next week, Pimax is having an event. And someone that is a big VR fan and lives in China, they went to this week there was a huge exposition in China where some of the biggest companies and even $11 billion worth of contracts are signed there. Pimax was there and the representative even told this individual that they're working on a standalone Pimax headset. And I started thinking, well, maybe even they're on this train of doing, cause they've been promising wireless PCPR for a while and including a specialized ship that can enable wireless PCPR makes sense in some way. And then finally, um, This is, again, a very speculative thing, but it makes a lot of sense to me. Last week, there was a lot of prototypes shown off by Facebook. And one of the prototypes was very fascinating. They showed off a retina resolution headset. And people thought, oh, they're going to work on a retina resolution quest. But the way that image is staged, it's next to a PC. And there's even looks to be like some sort of prototype VR image on the actual monitor. So it makes me think that if Valve is working on this, a lot of other companies are working on this idea of split rendering with a PC VR to get higher resolutions and all those things, because no matter how good the mobile chip is by themselves, they're not going to be able to do games at retina resolution by themselves for years to come. I imagine even Oculus is showing off a prototype of them doing this similar stuff with split rendering with a PC and headset to reach greater hardware. I think the basis for this is just all with the idea of combining an arm chip that's low power and can do its own specialized tasks on the headset, can posit the images, can overlay the controller, can handle the eye tracking and do all this specialized data, even handle a variable optics on board. And then all the computer is doing is rendering the game and communicating with that ship and deciding what data needs to be sent back and forth at low latency levels. So finally, we go back to the head straps. Yeah, so we take that idea, Valve is like, okay, well, if everyone in the industry is possibly doing this, well, let's treat a VR headset like a monitor is for a PC. I mean, it's obviously very different, but I think the idea is, as you plug a monitor into different PCs and you can bring your monitor over to different platforms. Let's have an arm chip built into a headset that has maybe some insane displays and insane lenses. So it's more future-proof and maybe people will want to spend more money later on if they add upgrades to it. And then have these different specialized head straps that can plug either directly into a port on the front of the Decker that has the arm chip. And one of the examples was a AMD APU built in the back of the headstrap that would be plugged into the front, similar to how you would do Quest 2 with a PC, virtual desktop, and armchair communicating with a x86 PC. And it's just like, to me, it makes a lot of sense when you think of it that way. It's just all they're doing is making a tiny PC and then a, a arm based VR headset that has specialized tasks. And they have the software that allows it to communicate and have a X 86 playable PC on your head.
[00:40:33.308] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think with the launch of the Steam Deck, there was a lot of excitement of like, hey, we're going to plug our VR headsets into these. And obviously, they don't recommend that. I know I saw Denny Unger was starting to play with that a little bit. But, you know, the other big thing that I think the Steam Deck is doing is, you know, creating a mobile platform based on Linux, which means that either the game devs have to rely upon the emulator, the proton that allows emulation of the games, even if it's compiled for Windows, to be able to play like on a Linux basis. And I know that you've been also very interested in seeing how Valve moving towards this future with more and more devices running Linux, Arch Linux, either on a mobile self-contained unit or if people are running PC VR stuff, but creating a lot of software and tools that you've been able to start to dig up that I think maybe not on everybody's radar because So many people are on Windows and not really bothering too much about Linux. And so I'm curious to hear about your own journey with the Linux side of things and how Linux fits into Valve's future plans here.
[00:41:32.860] Brad Lynch: Yeah. So Linux makes a lot of sense for Valve. Not only in the fact that they, they sort of say, Gabe Newell has been saying that they believe that open sourcing things brings about a lot of innovation faster than what they can do, which makes sense because they are a small company. They're not hiring 10,000 employees in Europe, for example. Right. I think last I saw like maybe 450 employees, which is amazing. Honestly, that's they do so much with that. But yeah, by open sourcing everything and providing a platform for people to add whatever they want, that benefits them in a lot of ways. But really it comes down, they do like throwing and investing money into things that will benefit them. Some of these things are, well, a lot of these things are related to Linux, as you say. The biggest example is Calibora, which is one of the main companies that handle all the OpenXR stuff, for example. But they also have a branch working on something called XR Desktop. which is purely for Linux. And it's all about productivity and basically having a whole desktop environment in VR. Very similar to virtual desktop in a way, but they're trying to make it to where it's like, you literally, if you wanted to, you can spend all your time to do productivity work in a VR headset. And this only works on Linux. And they fund this. Valve openly funds this. So, like, you start seeing stuff like that and you're like, well, wow, Valve really, they're either being really nice or they really want VR to also be running on a Linux in some way. And from my personal experience, I started diving in a few months ago into Linux. I'm still I'm actually very scared. The Linux community is awesome, by the way. They're like some of the most open and helpful people. And I can always rely on them. And I'm always trying to make sure I don't say anything wrong when it's related to Linux. But yeah, I'm still like a bit of a baby when it comes to Linux and figuring things out. But my experience so far is SteamVR on Linux, for the most part, is Valve themselves haven't, at least the public branches of SteamVR, haven't really updated it too well. That being said, there's constantly stuff in the background from the companies that they're funding to work on things for Linux. Wayland, which is a compositor for Linux, is getting a big update related to VR in like, I think a month, I think in late November. Whereas the biggest issue with VR and plugging in your VR headset into Linux SteamVR is sometimes you would have a black headset and black display on your headset, even though it seemed like everything is working on the game. And the reason why this happens is with the current state of Linux and a lot of these compositors, especially Wayland is they cannot dedicate resources from the GPU directly to the headset to activate direct mode, which we've been using in VR for a while. And Wayland is sort of like the brand new. Composite everyone's switching to for Linux. So it's very important to get that working because even SteamOS 3 does a lot of stuff on Wayland and next way LAN. So the stuff in the background and the back end for Linux VR is there. I think Val was very interested in it. Again, we found the Deckard thermal stuff in SteamOS 3 only. That was not anywhere else. It was only in SteamOS 3, which again runs on Linux, runs on Arch. There was another file I didn't talk about much in my stream, but it shows the loading process of all the Linux systems to be able to allow the Steam Deck to communicate with the Deckard. It's just like, all this stuff is there and it's hard to like show it off all. That's why I had to do like such a long stream. So like, it just seems, it feels obvious when you like look at this stuff so closely, but yeah, it's, I think Linux is the future for a lot of VR users. And I think it's very exciting for Linux users because they've been waiting for the day that gaming would be taken seriously for Linux. And I think we're close.
[00:45:12.137] Kent Bye: Yeah, there hasn't been the same ethos of open source sharing that you get from, say, like a web community, web development, the gaming community. For whatever reason, there's a lot more proprietary, but I'm glad to see that Valve is really pushing forward on that. They've been so into open standards and the PC as an open standard that I'm really glad to see a lot of the work from OpenXR. And, you know, Joe Ludwig, I've done a number of interviews with him specifically about OpenXR because it is such a vital part of the, you know, that's from a collaboration from the entire XR industry. So, yeah, just to see these OpenXR enabled trends that I see, it's going to be exciting to see it moving away from that closed wall garden mindset and this more interoperable world. So it's exciting to hear both from the Linux side and the more hardware side to kind of get away from what we have with the mobile phones, which is essentially like the duopoly where you don't really have much options to either mod it or improve it or change even the software side. So I think it's good to see that we're maybe leapfrogging into having a little bit more of that openness. with Valve really leading the way. And like you said, it's really amazing what they've been able to do with so little resources. But as we start to wrap up here, I'm just wondering if there's any other big thing that we should have on our radar in terms of either underlying tech or things that we should be looking for as we move into this next iteration of XR hardware.
[00:46:29.152] Brad Lynch: No, I just think to pivot back to a little bit of all this stuff that we're seeing a lot in trends, like we've talked a lot about, but again, a lot of these trends that we're talking about, I'm seeing a lot of companies doing the same stuff. And I get so excited in a lot of my streams. because I see this stuff happening very quickly. I see form factors getting smaller for a lot of use cases. I see resolutions getting much higher than people probably expected. And lens technology especially is finally catching up to the point where it's enabling all of these things. And it's like, Like we said earlier, it's like we've been using hardware that's already been there for a while. Even in the index, when it came out, it was using 2017 hardware, a lot of it, even especially the displays. And it's like, we're finally at a time where like a lot of these things are going to enable even more mass consumer adoption. Because I think especially when people start seeing smaller form factor headsets that can do a little bit more than media viewing, I think that's going to explode. I also do believe that people should be watching I mean, Sony's going to be huge when they release PSVR 2. Apple's probably going to be big, even though they're going to do probably some very monopolistic things with their ecosystem stuff. Look at other tech giants too, I would say. I think literally every tech giant has at least some sort of prototyping in their offices, deep in their offices. And they've been waiting for the technology to mature to the point where we're literally about to reach. Because again, we were just talking about, we were using stuff that was very, uh, like wires are getting removed, which is a lot of people have been saying that's been a huge detriment to VR growth and like, don't even need PCs for a lot of these things. All these tech giants, they're watching. Don't think that they're just like sleeping on the VR industry. I guarantee you, we're probably going to see even companies like Amazon. hop in, in the near future. So just like watch all the tech giants and don't be too worried about Facebook, especially as we're coming up on connect 2021 about taking over. I think Facebook is pivoting so heavily right now into changing their name and the way they look, because I'm not the only one doing industry espionage. All of these companies are doing it. They're seeing what other companies are working on and they got to make it big while they are the only players because things are happening big in the industry.
[00:48:38.015] Kent Bye: Nice. And I'm curious, what type of experiences do you want to have in VR?
[00:48:43.579] Brad Lynch: To go back to a little bit to BCIs, I think the idea of Project Galea is very fascinating from a game design standpoint. I've been kind of talking about it in a couple of videos, but I know there's a lot of issues with BCIs and we haven't even proven ourselves without BCIs and that like privacy and everything. Luckily, OpenBCI is open source. So that kind of gives a little bit more helpfulness for what that was working on in that regard. But when we get to the point that non-invasive BCIs are consumer ready and can actually tailor to experiences, I think the idea of having the environment and VR change to your emotional state and even having interactions with digital characters also change based on your emotional state will be Incredible. I really just I think about all the time just imagining like even a simple thing. I gave an example in my videos like I'm big fan of the portal games and like GLaDOS talking to me. And there was a workshop mod which allowed you and Half-Life Alex to pretty much play some portal levels without the portal gun. But every time I hear GLaDOS speaking to me in this like 3D spatial audio, it's chilling already. Like they're just prerecorded things are chilling. But what if like a simple thing where GLaDOS would be able to sense my emotions of what the situation and be able to change what she says to me based on that. And I think a small stuff like that, that non-invasive BCIs will be able to bring to us. And that excites me a lot, honestly.
[00:50:08.462] Kent Bye: Nice. Yeah. I had, uh, I've not been as impressed in terms of where the BCI tech is and from the experiential perspective, and I've tried a couple of dozen different experiences and I had a chance to talk to Connor Russomano. And in the longterm though, I'm optimistic for this is going. One of the caveats I'd say is that a lot of the neuro gaming conference that was around for a number of years actually rebranded to the X tech experiential technology conference, because a lot of the data takes long time. It's like a rolling average. That's hard to. make a decision in a moment. So it's less about the Twitch, but more about the moods and emotions and we'll see where that goes. But yeah, it's exciting to think about the potentials for sure. But yeah, and finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality might be and what it might be able to enable?
[00:50:51.902] Brad Lynch: Yeah, that's a, that's, that's a difficult question. Um, I'm not as much as, uh, I guess, so as a VR content creator, usually when we're asked this question, I feel like we're expected to say like full dive, like sort of online, but I'm not much of the Kool-Aid drinker with that. I think it's really the small things that VR brings to all aspects. I mean, we're seeing it used for medical reasons. We're seeing it used for productivity. Productivity excites me a lot, actually. I've been saying this very recently, especially, but lightweight, high-resolution form factor headsets that I can use literally to replace any monitor I have and just do stuff like that. That excites me. I'm a bit of a lazy person, so laying in bed and just being able to read patents in bed with this high-resolution headset, that sounds amazing. No, I, I really can't choose one. I just think it's going to be such a benefit to every sector that we live. It's kind of hard to pick one for now it's gaming, but I think that's going to change very fast.
[00:51:48.341] Kent Bye: So nice. And, uh, is there, is there anything else that's left inside that you'd like to say to the immersive community? Um,
[00:51:57.039] Brad Lynch: Yeah, thank you for your support. Go easy on me if I'm wrong on some things. That's kind of the aspect of what I do. Even the best analysts in VR that have a lot more experience than me, they're wrong sometimes. I will accept when I'm wrong, but please go easy on me. I'm one person. I'm very emotional.
[00:52:15.308] Kent Bye: Yeah, there was some stuff around the flow that I saw that you basically took a week off and maybe expecting micro OLEDs that came in that, but you know, the stuff with the Deckard, it seems like, you know, the thing in the video that you said that really stuck with me was that you said something along the lines of like, I hope that the work that I've done with being able to talk about the Deckard will be able to kind of submit your name in the history of the evolution of. or the medium as people start to look about how things unfolded. And if the Deckard is a thing and it does come out, then you're one of the people that got the scoop and broke the news to the world about that. So, you know, I guess we'll wait and see what ends up happening, but yeah, I guess that'll, that'll be cool for, uh, and, you know, if you had any final reflections on what that means to have your name in that canon of history in that way.
[00:52:57.310] Brad Lynch: Yeah, I mean, I guess I have a weird ego problem where I'm constantly trying to do different things in the VR industry to put my name down on it. But I do it because I deeply care about VR a lot. And that's why I always do these things that people think I become manically crazy. And they're right, I do become manically crazy. No, I even when the time that the Deckard's announced and like, and, you know, I'm going to have a live stream reacting to the specifications and like, there's going to be a lot of fun back and forth between me and my live chat. But like, even if I'm wrong on things, I'm going to have the biggest smile on my face no matter what, because it was just like, it's like about the adventure. Like, this is fun for me. This is all really fun. It's helping me learn in a very fun way. Just like, as you said, an ARG game. So.
[00:53:46.338] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, Brad, thanks so much for coming on the show and unpacking a little bit more of what you've been finding and people haven't checked it out yet. I linked some of the different episodes to go check out that I've been really enjoying these different deep dives in the Deckard and then kind of reading through patents and whatnot. And it's, it's just interesting to see where things are going. It's a very interesting time and it's good to have that type of analyst deep dive into the technical wonky details. So, but yeah, thanks for coming on to share your journey and also to give some insights for where this is all going. So thanks for joining me here today on the podcast.
[00:54:17.368] Brad Lynch: I was so excited when you let me come on this show. I've been enjoying Voices of VR for so long, so this is great to be a part of it. Thank you.
[00:54:26.180] Kent Bye: So that was Brad Lynch, also known as Sadly It's Bradley, and he is a VR hardware analyst on YouTube, and he's been reporting on Valve Deckard, speculative patent research, and has a lot of different leaks of hardware companies, including a lot of stuff on Meta, including the MetaQuest Pro. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, Well, I had fun just going back and listening to this conversation, but also catching up with a lot of the stuff that Brad is reporting. I think after he came out with these CAD drawings, and you see this confirmation of 17 out of his 24 different predictions were on the nose and really had gotten a lot of stuff right, the biggest thing that he said that was different from what was actually being announced was that he thought there might be a depth sensor in the front of the MetaQuest Pro, which would not just be able to do vision-based hand tracking, but to get the depth sensing as well, to have even more powerful near-field mixed reality experiences with hand-based tracking. But that apparently was pulled later in the development cycle, and so he was getting a little bit of conflicting information. But yeah, he was able to win this IGN Steam VR Developer Showcase that was held back on January 28th, 2016. And then on February 16th of 2016, he got his HTC Vive Pre. He starts making VR content just like a few days later. streaming on his Twitch stream and then posting that onto his YouTube channel, and then was doing a lot of mixed reality work with folks like Smosh Games and Dude Perfect, and then went to Gamescom in 2017, and then January 2019, that's when he did the World Cyber Games WCG 2019, and he was the champion there. Then yeah, lots of different stuff that he's been covering, you know There's different stuff that he was doing some his final predictions video from July 27th 2022 with a meta quest pro he started to post some of the CAD files that he got leaked on June 1st of 2022 on his patreon and then he also has a sadly in reality comm where he's been posting some blog type content his valve Deckard live Q&A and I figured out everything. That was on October 1st, 2021, and that was the big stream that had at the beginning of it, there was like this five-minute video that recounts a lot of his journey into VR. I think after I saw that, I was like, you know, I just want to catch up and get a little bit more of his story because I think it's just kind of interesting what he's doing. And it's also really quite interesting to see where he was over a year ago and how much he's continued to evolve and develop his practice of Synthesizing a number of different sources he actually on one of his streams had posted all the different things that he's tying together And so he says that it's a speculation prediction channel that he uses dating mining special. Thanks to Somalia Basti five six four and m3 gag luk some other folks that he's listed as Sources that are helping to do this type of data mining are the AR underscore MR underscore XR user on Reddit, who has actually a whole channel that's named that as well. And then Universe Ice. Others that are doing this kind of data mining of both the looking through lots of public records from import documents to get information about the technology crossing borders, but also unpacking firmware, find these different strings to get clues and information as to things that are happening at the software layer and unpacking that. This is something that Tyler McVicker has been involved with as well when I did the interview with him. He's been doing something very similar, but more focused on the software side of things rather than the hardware side of things. And also Tyler McVicker is the one who told me about this. Robert Walker talk that was at Steam Dev Days 2014 is called Community and Communication in Games as Services. And they really talk about the communication philosophy and strategy that Valve has, which is to essentially not engage directly with public media, but to do more of a underground direct-to-customer community cultivation engagements, but also by leaking out information into things like their builds that they kind of enjoy this ARG level of getting information out there and almost deliberately just to build a buzz like this. In some ways, Brad is fulfilling that level of the ecosystem to satisfy the curiosity of what's coming next. Because of Valve's way that they have their whole company organized, it's really based upon if they're able to get enough buy-in. I'm sure there's some high-level budgetary things that are happening, but it's also this non-hierarchical, distributed way of making decisions. It's really a miracle of how much they've been able to accomplish with this little people that they have. But at the same time, there's no guarantee that any of the stuff that has already been working on is ever going to make it to the point of having a launch product. But I think everybody who is watching the industry is just, with their fingers crossed, waiting for the moment that we're going to get the next hardware that's going to be coming out from Valve. Because still, up to this day, the Valve Index is by far the most comfortable PC VR headset that's out there. Even if there's other stuff that's out there that's higher resolution, some people who, especially if they do extended play, the Valve Index is hard to beat because it's just so comfortable. The audio is great. You know, when I do PC VR, I much prefer to do it in the Index than any of the other headsets that are out there. There's a lot of people who are really interested in tracking what's happening with Valve. Brad, in some ways, is filling that hunger for the latest news and information from the Deckard. Also, Valve has the Steam Deck. Valve has been diversifying in terms of their hardware production and having success in other venues is going to just tie into being able to put out other hardware products as well. If they have a success in one area, that's going to just encourage them to do more stuff like that. What started with the VR headset getting into their own production has expanded out. I think there's just a lot of hopes that they're going to continue to do that. I've heard Gabe Newell say something along the lines of, there's always going to be the market for people that have PC VR that just want the absolute best for whatever is available. just to think about that. And if they do have a standalone or if they do focus continued on PC VR, you know, they get lots of data. There's lots of people who are using either the Oculus VR headset. I think it's around 50% or so people that use PC VR with the meta quest ecosystem. So either through the air link or directly through a tether with the cord, you know, a lot of people are using these meta pieces of hardware for PC VR and it's, it's all right. But for me, it's kind of suboptimal, but You do have wireless experience for that. And if you have all this other kit and you flush it out, you know, you can start to get on parody for what the index is. Anyway, there's just a lot of excitement for that and he's been tracking a lot of that. Just to recap his overall techniques that he's using, he's doing firmware updates, he's looking at supply and share sources, he's got company sources from within the industry, who he describes as people who just can't shut up about different stuff and they just like to share information and pass it along, as well as these import documents, reading through patents and fusing all these things together as he goes through these different deep dives. Go check out his channel to see some of the different predictions and keep up to speed as to some of the latest speculations. Again, it is a speculation prediction channel, so there are things that he's not going to always be correct, but he's improving his track record, I'd say, in terms of being able to have independent verified sources. The next things that are coming up are the Qualcomm chip that he has been reporting on. the xr2 gen 2 and the adreno 740 gpu and the next generation of what's going to be in the future generations of these xr devices so that's all i have for today and i just wanted to thank you for listening to the voices of vr podcast and if you enjoy the podcast then please do spread the word tell your friends and consider becoming a member of the patreon This is a listener-supported podcast, and I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicevr. Thanks for listening.