The Valve Index officially launches today, and it provides a strong vision for the future of high-end PC VR with solid tracking, fidelity, and hand-tracked Index controllers that provide a deep sense of hand presence. Valve sent me hardware to review and I share my full impressions at the end of this podcast, but the bottom line is that Valve is releasing high-end hardware that will surely provide the absolute best high-end virtual reality experiences on the PC for the near future.
Facebook and Oculus have decided to completely move to inside-out-tracking as the default for the Rift S, but this has been providing some first-person shooter PC games tracking issues because of occlusion issues with the trigger hand as documented in this video by BauerMECH. Moving completely to inside-out tracking suggests that Oculus is prioritizing mobility and portability for the Oculus Quest, which is much more likely to become Facebook’s breakaway success as a tetherless VR console system. Energetically, Oculus is putting more engineering resources and efforts in creating a rigorously polished Quest platform, but the Rift S is getting deprioritized as a platform, which is symbolically represented by it being outsourced to Lenovo to produce.
So it’s within this context that Valve is doubling down on helping to shape the future of PC VR gaming by releasing the Valve Index. At a Valve Index launch party video, Valve founder Gabe Newell says that the next steps are for the Index to get wider distribution, for the next iterations to lower the cost, make it lighter, make ergonomic improvements. They’re also doing a number of speculative and forward-looking research into different untethered methods, experimenting with different revolutionary display & optical technology, expanding the tracking volumes, & of course developing some new Valve VR games.
Valve timed the official announcement of the Valve Index to happen on April 30, 2019 at 10:00am Pacific Time, which is precisely when Facebook’s F8 opening keynote was starting. The VR journalists had early access to both the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Rift S, and the embargo for those reviews was about to lift later that morning at 10:30am. But Valve had flown a selection of VR journalists to Seattle the week before F8 in order to get a briefing and to get a sneak peak at some of the experiences, and then time the release during the official beginning of Facebook’s developer conference.
I ran into Ian Hamilton, senior editor of UploadVR.com, about 10 minutes before he was about to publish his early impressions of the Valve Index while he was also simultaneously going to be covering the Facebook F8 keynote. I had a chance to talk to Hamilton a few hours afterwards in order to document this unique moment in VR history as these two major platforms that will be shaping the VR industry for the discernible future, and to have an opportunity to really compare and contrast where the PC VR market is heading with the Rift S versus the Valve Index. But in terms of top priorities, it’s really the Quest versus the Index, which are completely different markets and are serving different purposes. Facebook/Oculus seems to be optimizing for scale, untethered portability, and cost, while Valve is optimizing for fidelity, high-end quality, and precision of external tracking technologies.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
— Kent Bye (Voices of VR) (@kentbye) April 30, 2019
Ian shares a bit of meta points of what it’s like to be a VR journalist and to have to be able to distinguish your own subjective perceptual experiences with what’s happening objectively with the technologies. This is not always easy to do especially when it’s happening within the context of embargos. So now that the Index embargo lifted this morning at 10am, I can also elaborate on my own impressions after having an opportunity to have early access to the Index HMD and controllers. Tune into the full discussion in order to hear my full thoughts on the experiences of hand presence with the Index controllers (formerly called “Knuckles controllers”), the tradeoffs of comfort and safety with the controllers, the amazing graphical fidelity, being able to read text, long-term comfort, key binding dependencies not always being in place, minimum and recommended specs, the weight distribution, audio, and haptics.
I also try to add quite a bit of deeper context of this dynamic between Facebook/Oculus and Valve in terms of their closed vs open platform strategies. Overall, I trust that Valve will be continuing to iterate on the Index, but it looks like they’re completely committed to future of PC gaming. I can’t say the same for Oculus as I suspect that the success of the Quest and the lack of quality assurance and polish on the Rift S is creating less of a high-end and polished PC VR experience. They’re both moving the VR industry forward in different ways, and both are vitally important. But Valve doesn’t seem interested in sacrificing quality for price while the Oculus seems to be aiming for a more middle tier price point and performance with the Rift S that’s likely good enough for certain games for a certain audience. But in terms of creating the best in class PC VR where price isn’t a concern, then Valve Index seems to be emerging as the clear winner here.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
Disclosure: Valve provided me with a Valve Index for review
Full video of the Valve Index launch video featuring Valve engineer Jeremy Selan (see my oral history interview with Selan here) and Valve founder Gabe Newell
Video detailing Rift S tracking and occlusion issues in first-person shooters
The final embargo on Valve Index reviews lifts at 10a PT.
I'll be airing an interview with @hmltn recorded on the day he released his original impressions on 4/30 + my own thoughts.
Image is supported titles released by Valve.
Link to comprehensive list:https://t.co/faFqH3AaR1 pic.twitter.com/k16IeCcYvY
— Kent Bye (Voices of VR) (@kentbye) June 28, 2019
Here’s a survey of the other coverage of the Valve Index launch.
- Voices of VR Podcast: “Valve Index: The Future of PC VR, Hand Presence, & Impressions from Ian Hamilton & Kent Bye”
- Road to VR: “Valve Index Review – The Enthusiast’s Choice”
- The Verge: “Valve Index review: high-powered VR at a high-end price”
- Polygon: “Valve Index review: $999 buys you the best VR experience yet — when it works”
- Tested’s Early Preview from May 28, 2019 “Valve Index VR Headset In-Depth Impressions!”
- UploadVR: “Valve Index Review: Aiming For PC VR’s Sweet Spot And Pulling The Trigger”
- IGN Video: “Valve Index VR Kit Review”
- Engadget “Valve Index review: Next-level VR”
- Engadget Video: “Valve Index Review: There’s still a place for high end VR”
- PC Gamer: “Valve Index review: High-end VR with a luxury price.”
- Ars Technica: “Guidemaster: Is Valve Index the best virtual reality system to buy in 2019?”
- PC World: “Valve Index review: The new bar for VR headsets”
This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.
[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. So on today's episode, I'm going to be covering the Valve Index. First, I'm going to be talking with Ian Hamilton. He's a senior editor at Upload VR. And actually, I talked to him at F8, where the Valve Index was being announced officially for the first time in terms of they took a number of different journalists, they brought them up to Seattle, they gave them early access to be able to see a number of different demos. And so at F8, that's the Facebook developer conference, a lot of the VR journalists had had access to the Oculus Quest for a few weeks. And so the embargo for the Quest was lifting on that Tuesday at like 10.30 a.m. And the Valve Index had their embargo lift at 10 a.m. And so the keynote for the F8 was about to begin and I'm walking up and I just say hello to Ian Hamilton and he was just like, wow, things are really crazy. And I'm like, what, what's going on? And he's like, oh, there's this embargo that lifts at 10 a.m. And I was like, whoa, I thought it was at 10.30, what are you talking about? And so then he's like, take a look at my Twitter. So at 10 a.m., I'm like watching Ian's Twitter as the beginning of the F8 keynote begins, and I'm like reading through all of the early reviews of different people that had gone to see the index. at the same time while covering the keynote that's happening right there at Facebook F8. So it was a bit of a wild moment and so afterwards I really wanted to capture the experiences that Ian had from having early access to both the Rift Est and Oculus Quest and the Valve Index and then being in the position of needing to say what his opinions are on all of these things. And VR journalism is something that's a little tricky because it's so much about your own perception, about your own phenomenological experiences. And so there is this constant questioning as to whether or not what you're experiencing is valid or real and how to look at things through an objective lens or if it should be looked at a phenomenological lens. And so I've personally had access to the Valve Index and I've had a chance to have some experiences on it. But before I share my own impressions, I wanted to have Ian share his impressions because I feel like I was in the position of not having access to being able to go to Valve and be able to see the first iterations that were being shown to the journalists. I was not invited to go. And so I was in the position of being on the outside asking Ian, tell me what this thing is. And so now the role reversal of now having access to the index and being in that same position then I have my own impressions, but I want to sort of cast it through the lens of where I was asking Ian to tell me what his experiences were of the index. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Ian happened on Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 at the F8 conference in San Jose, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:03:06.370] Ian Hamilton: I'm Ian Hamilton. I've been reporting on VR since about 2012. I did, I guess I technically did a few stories before that on like a cave. I started covering Oculus in 2012. Basically, they were a local startup in Irvine and did the duct tape demo and got hooked on this idea that this was probably the next generation of computing and been pursuing it ever since.
[00:03:34.178] Kent Bye: Great. So right now we're at the F8 conference in 2019. And I had a chance to run into you right before 10 o'clock. It was probably 9.50 or so. And you were in the process of about to release a story that you've been working on, not relative to the F8 and Facebook, but with Valve and the Index. Maybe you could give me a bit of back story for the story that you just published today.
[00:03:56.722] Ian Hamilton: So last week I flew to Seattle and was basically invited to check out Valve Index. So I had a briefing time in the middle of last week. weren't a lot of people there. It was a small group that appeared to have been selected by Valve to see the headset early. And meanwhile, I knew that Facebook was going to be sending me review units to test out Rift S and Quest, but I had not received them prior to the Index demo. But yeah, so I was basically... Valve's such an interesting company. They're the most private company in the world. They're a private business and they like it that way. So they don't have to answer your questions if they don't want to. They don't have to announce things when they don't want to. they are on their schedule. So it's been an interesting evolution to watch what's happened between Facebook and Valve, what happened just with the PC VR market and with the VR market more generally. So like, I kept having flashbacks to my first Vive demo during this whole build-up to going to see Valve Index. It was March 2015 when I got my first Vive demo. I went to Weaver's headquarters in Venice in LA, they had so many wires and the two valve base stations in opposite corners of the room and it's just funny to think back on like talking to the employee of Weaver and we're joking about like Are you allowed to show this? And they're like, yes, we've been told we're allowed to show this. And we're joking about like, are there cameras hidden in the hardware? Like who's watching and wondering? Because even then, you know how valuable and how hard these companies have worked behind the scenes to prepare the systems that they're pushing out to the public. And so it's also incredibly, these companies want to control the way the public perceives their systems, you know, so it's just, it was, I remember that interaction very vividly of just feeling like I was about to see the future, and being able to get that first interaction with Chaperone. I remember watching other people, my friends who were with me, go through that Vive demo for the first time, and one walked up to the wall and then stopped just inches from hitting the wall. And like that instantly trained my brain of just, oh wow, I hope the guards are set right so that I'm not going to walk into a wall. It's like, just seeing that interaction right in front of me has an effect on my behavior going into VR right after them. So I'm a little more cautious, I'm a little slower moving around because I don't want to hit my head on anything. But yeah, so at Valve last week, I just kept thinking about that moment and what that represented for the VR market. That sort of high watermark that Valve had teamed up with HTC to deliver to developers. And I was excited. Because it's just, there's a lot of pent-up, you know, everyone wants to see what's next, right? And they get jaded. I don't know, there's a sense of just getting jaded and getting to see whatever's next is always eye-opening. I'm sitting at a Starbucks down the street from Valve because I don't even know where their headquarters are. I went to their building and they're not listed on the lobby info. I wasn't even sure which floor they were on. But I'm sitting there at the Starbucks, then an email comes in and it says the embargo has changed from May 1st to April 30th at 10 a.m. Now, that was two hours ago, so that was the very start of the F8 keynote. It's hard to describe my reaction as a journalist to all these things, because I try to be objective. I try to be balanced. I try to be fair. But there's still emotional reactions to major news breaking. And so just knowing that Valve was going to time their announcement to the exact start of Facebook's announcements, Get giddy as a journalist. I don't know. I can't wait to see what the internet does. It's going to be bloody. I hate saying both of those things. I know there's going to be so much debate and talk and I know that everything that these two companies are about to announce is going to drive the conversation for the next nine months, years. And it's just, I've worked so hard to try to be on the front lines of all this and not misrepresent what anyone's doing. And at the same time, you know, you're wondering, does Facebook know what I know? Like, I mean, Valve clearly knows that stuff is coming from Facebook, but does Facebook know? And it's an exciting time for me personally. And I feel weird sharing that, but you bring it out of me, Kent. Because I have this demeanor of trying to be neutral all the time. And something of this magnitude, it's hard. And there's a lot of things to balance. I don't care about this technology relative to people, right? I care about people. I think the people who are making this technology are doing something from their hearts. They're trying to bring change to the world. You know, they've got very big, lofty goals in their hearts for what they're doing. And I'm interested in that. And I'm interested in whether that's actually what plays out in the market, right? There are so many enthusiasts out there right now that are inviting this technology into their home. They're buying it. They're doing it because they're enthusiastic about it and they want this technology. But I think about the five years down the road when people are forced to use these headsets in various ways. Prisoners for rehabilitation, work training purposes. I need to think about those people too who don't even exist yet or those use cases that aren't even there yet. And I'm wondering about whether these efforts now are going to play, I'm wondering about how that's going to play out in the long term. again it's about people like the technology is about you know all the it feels there's this thing about marketing with VR that almost feels it's dystopian and it's double speak a little bit right back at the Magic Leap conference I can't remember what they had on their billboards open your eyes or you Open your mind. Open your mind, yeah. Free your mind. Free your mind, yeah. Free your mind. And I'm just thinking, free your mind by inserting a filter between you and everything else. That doesn't compute for me. Like that marketing message, there's a conflict there. And I keep thinking about that, right? These headsets can connect you with people who are far away through time or space. But there was an early marketing message from Samsung where they showed a Gear VR and a 360 video stream and the guy had a job on one side of Australia and had to leave to do his job and not see the birth of his child. And so the whole marketing message was, let's use VR to bring this guy back to the birth of his child. So he puts on the VR headset and goes, wow, wow. And I mean, sure, it's the most pixelated thing on earth, but You know, that was the marketing message was this guy has a job to do and VR is collapsing space and allowing that interaction to happen. It's beautiful in theory. But how that will play out in the real world on massive scales is an entirely different question from the marketing message. And I'm constantly trying to balance the marketing message of all of these companies and all of these efforts against what may play out long term and large scale. That again comes back to the people. Like I started with these creators, these people who have these high visions for what this technology can do. and I just wonder how it's going to play out in the market. I think I started the whole thing out by saying it's so important to me that we try to sort out in our minds whether we're willing to walk away from this technology at the drop of a hat if it turns to be abusive or it turns to be misused. And that's something I'm personally prepared to do, like, as just an individual. But it's something that I think needs to be on everyone's minds much, much more, is all those use cases. And so, like, I'm here at this F8, and they are up on stage, and one of the people says, video conferencing is one of the most private ways that we connect with our family. And I actually audibly said, like, what? I usually just look at my family and hug them, you know? Like, that's the most intimate and private way that I spend time with my family, not with video conferencing. But I mean, I get their point. They're like, you know, video conferencing is about making interactions possible that weren't possible before. But it's just you drink that Kool-Aid for too long, you start downplaying the other side. And I don't want that to happen with VR. I don't want that to happen with AR. And I think we need to constantly be gut checking ourselves on the direction of all this stuff.
[00:14:22.111] Kent Bye: Yeah, I'm just on the heels of coming back from Tribeca. And there was a piece there called Stealing Your Feelings, which was all about how Snapchat, Google, Facebook, and Apple were all looking at emotions and emotion detection. And there was a lot of talk today at Facebook about privacy is doing a turn towards privacy. But yet, there's not one single moment where I heard them talk about biometric privacy or the privacy of your face and your emotions and your more data that you're broadcasting by having maybe cameras be turned on as you're looking at content and recording your face and seeing what you feel about things. And so, yeah, but because you went to Valve, we could go down a whole rabbit hole on that, but that's what comes up to me when I hear the marketing message versus what actually happens and things to be checked out in terms of what is happening with Facebook with biometric privacy specifically. But because you went to Valve, you had a chance to see the index, and you also had a week with both the Quest and the Rift S, I'm just curious, like, what your impressions are in terms of the technology and what you're kind of taking away from being able to demo each of these new pieces of software that are gonna be launching here within the next couple months.
[00:15:28.443] Ian Hamilton: So, um, Valve were pretty specific in saying that they targeted Fidelity with their system. Based on my time with them, which was only a couple hours, it seems apparent that that's what they did. So, I... On the other side of that, there's friction in getting into the headsets and affordability. In theory, those are the two pillars that are going to bring millions or billions of people into interacting with this technology. You basically decrease the price and then you also make it really easy to get into a headset. And then you also, you know, you obviously want to make amazing things for the people once they get in there. It's just, these companies had to make design choices and figure out areas to focus on. And it's pretty apparent that Valve focused on creators and makers and developers. in trying to develop Index. That doesn't appear to be the focus of Rift S and Quest. I mean, Quest is going to have Tilt Brush, but not Medium or Quill. They'll have, like, Viewers, I believe, for those apps. And then Rift S switches to this inside-out tracking system, which does solve that issue of making it really easy to get into a headset. Just like I wrote in my review, it's just I could not rip down my three Oculus sensors more quickly. I really wanted them gone. Because they're an eyesore, they've caused me endless PC issues for three years on every machine I've hooked them up to. And Rift S just doesn't have any of that. It's just, it's interesting to see Valve go harder into the community that they built with the first generation. And then Oculus and Facebook focus on widening sort of the entry into VR. So it's like Facebook focused on getting more people into VR. Valve appears to have focused on trying to make the time that you spend in VR better so that you want to spend more time in it. So that's the fundamental difference in approach, I think, in those design priorities. I need to spend more time with Rift S and with Quest and with Index and HP Reverb, you know, all the headsets. It's like I was reading all the comments in response to all of our articles this morning and It's tough to balance my personal perception against what everyone else's perception is going to be and not trying to say too much without having the amount of experience to really speak from. So like you've got on day one, so I was able to write a review of Rift S because I had many hours with it, but I didn't feel comfortable in doing that because my time with Index was so limited. But again, people want the review from both immediately once they both know about it. And so there's like an expectations gap there between what I'm able to do and what people want from every headset. And so it's just, it's always tough to try to balance and get out as much as I possibly can. While like, I'm the only person on my team that saw Valve Index, I can't, I don't have anyone else to trust. to confirm that I saw what I saw. That's the tricky thing with VR coverage. You're talking about your own perception and your own experience of seeing something. And you're not sure if that's the way everyone is going to perceive what you've perceived. And so like, I've got to abstract away from my own experience enough while not doing too much. I mean, so it's tough. And I hope I've struck that balance with this announcement. So going to Valve those two hours before going into the index meeting are just like, you're getting that email saying, you know, your embargo is the start of F8. And then I'm in the audience at F8 here. And there's no one around me that is really aware that Valve has chosen this moment to upend the dialogue.
[00:19:58.655] Kent Bye: Up until I come up and say hello.
[00:19:59.996] Ian Hamilton: Yeah, right. And I'm like, yeah, hey, hey, Kent, everything's breaking right now.
[00:20:05.017] Kent Bye: And you said to me that there is an embargo at 10. I was like, no, the embargo is at 1030. And you're like, there's a different embargo. I was like, oh, what? And you're like, keep an eye on my Twitter. I'm like, OK.
[00:20:14.440] Ian Hamilton: Facebook said the same thing. Yeah, so I tweeted out, I kept my mouth shut about the entire thing as much as humanly possible. Sometimes we're kind of able to tease embargoes coming way in advance or just say, hey, check this out. This is one where I had to play pretty close to the vest, but about an hour before embargo time. I said, you should check our website at 10 a.m. I got an email saying, just a reminder, the embargo's 10.30. And I had to say, yeah, thanks for the reminder. That was my response. So. You didn't say, oh, it's a different embargo. No, I did not. That's the tricky, you know. I wanted to, but no. Just said, thanks for the reminder.
[00:21:09.156] Kent Bye: I said the same thing, actually. I was like, wait, I thought it was 1030.
[00:21:11.497] Ian Hamilton: Yep. So, I mean, you weren't the only one in that situation.
[00:21:15.539] Kent Bye: Well, so I had some time with the Quest and I sort of agree with you in the sense of it is difficult for me to come out and just say this is what the truth is about this system. I have the luxury as a podcaster to, you know, like I told Facebook is like, look, I want to actually do an interview. That's my coverage. And so. I was waiting to come here to be able to have a conversation. But they also give me a chance to look at all the different reviews and what people say, and then kind of really distill it and digest it in conversation. But just to kind of wrap things up here, I'm just curious if you have any other impressions of Quest, because they're serving different purposes of the console market and the standalone versus the Rift S versus the Index, and where you see it going.
[00:21:58.441] Ian Hamilton: It's really strange to me that Nintendo puts an age start on their Labo VR kit of 7, but Oculus is sticking to 13+, with all the documentation for their systems. And then at Valve I asked, what's the low-end range for Valve Index, because they have the IPD slider on there that should make it more workable for younger people. And the response was, we don't set guidelines for age, generally. And... I don't know, it's a fascinating sort of like area where each company is approaching who they can market to and how strongly they can market to that group in different ways. The Knuckles controllers. So the takeaway, and maybe it didn't come across in my write-up, but the thing that got me about Index was a clear-headedness that I don't really get out of other headsets. That's how I describe this sort of like cognitive buildup or whatever. I don't know how to describe it, but like, it becomes a headache if you just spend too much time in an uncomfortable VR experience. I enjoyed my time in that headset because the weight was right, the clarity was right, the field of view was maximized. It's like all these things you see pieces of in other headsets were brought together in Index in a really, really nice way. And the effect of it is, to make you want to spend more time in the headset. So, it's kind of like, I'm trying to develop a sense where like, if something is uncomfortable, it's hard to put a finger on exactly why it was uncomfortable. Like, it could be frame rate, it could be resolution, it could be tracking, clarity of the optics, you know, the list goes on and on of the things that can contribute to not feeling comfortable. Index is trying to give you your natural hand movements, grasping and release sensations, and then they're combining that with this visual experience that is trying to do for the eyes what the hands are doing a little bit, like just trying to make you more relaxed. That's the only way I would describe it. So I'm going in Beat Saber, and there's a moment in Beat Saber at 144Hz where I'm crouched under one of the long red blocks, and I'm just taking a deep breath. I'm looking around. My eyes, this is the one, this is where I would say. In every headset, Before now, there's a sweet spot on the lenses where everything is in focus and everything is crisp. You learn in a headset not to move your eyes. You learn to move your head instead in order to bring things in focus. Like in VR, I would turn my body to you directly instead of, you know, my 45 degree angle here and then turning my head. I would look directly at you because of this focus thing on the lenses. So like, even the most natural of behaviors, of pointing my eye at something, is restricted when that sweet spot isn't wide. And so, it's a relief. It's suddenly just a wave of relief. And I don't know how to describe it more than saying comfort, relief. Feeling relaxed because I'm more of me is able to be natural and do exactly what I want to do rather than Fight against what the hardware is telling me I can do and that's what I felt in index Quest does the same thing by cutting the tether but it's still got some visual limitations. The fixed foveated rendering is always there, decreasing the resolution around the edges, and so you're constantly wanting to turn your head to look directly at the things, when I just want to turn my eyes at the things. So, yeah, that's the type of thing that I felt so was improved in Index, and it was such like a weight being lifted so that I could spend more time in the gear. And the hands were, I described in my review, but they put me in like four completely different implementations of the Knuckles controllers, back to back to back to back, and it's just showing the range of experimentation that's possible with those controllers. But it's kind of like, Oculus is focusing on standardizing their touch interactions across all headsets. And so it's kind of weird to kind of like... figure out how to balance those two things. Here's Oculus standardizing its controller system, and here's Valve introducing a whole new, like, taking us right back to 2016 when developers are trying to figure out how to use grip buttons and triggers and touch pads all over again. And I do think those controllers are probably a step forward. It's just we need kind of like a Valve game or something of that magnitude to define the interaction paradigms for everyone else.
[00:27:03.312] Kent Bye: So I know that you've said that Ken Perlin, some of the things that he said about VR is something that has stuck with you for a long time. And it feels like that going back to the more humanistic approach of how this is going to change how we connect to each other. So I'm just curious if you could talk a bit about what you see the ultimate potential of all of these immersive technologies might be.
[00:27:24.559] Ian Hamilton: Magically use the term versus to mean layers. It does seem likely that we are going to have layers over the world and I wonder what happens when those layers are used by everyone and some people want to go into some layers and some people want to go into different layers. and how addictive those layers are and whether people feel the need to wear the glasses in order to feel whole. Like that's scary and it's also kind of like you know I keep thinking about my kids so I basically quit my job as Orange County Register reporter in 2014 right after Facebook acquired Oculus and bought a DK2 with my final check from the company and started trying to freelance write. And by the next summer, I had my second child. And I keep coming back to them and thinking about their world that they're going to grow up in. And I have to constantly balance whether I'm doing enough to make sure that their world is fair to them. Like, I don't want to grow up in a world where there's so many censors around us that their choices are taken away from them before they even realize. Yeah, I constantly think about that. If you are gathering enough data, then you can control choices. And that's alarming as heck. And yeah, that's the ultimate potential of this is control, right? I want to have control over my life and my choices. I want to help my family and other people have more control of their choices. I got to also think about the people who might be trying to work to take those choices away. And I think these technologies can do that in subtle ways we may not even see sneak up on us until they're already here.
[00:29:28.686] Kent Bye: Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. Thank you. Thank you. So that was in Hamilton. He's been reporting on AR and VR since 2012, and he's a senior editor at Upload VR. So there's a moment in and interview where he says, you know, he was the only one from upload VR to see the valve index. And so he's coming back, and he's having all these impressions. And he's trying to like, break down his different perceptions of like, why is it that he's experiencing what he's experiencing? What are all the different components and having seen all these variety of different headsets, then how can you isolate something down to the specifics of the headset and separate what's happening on in your own direct experiences with what's actually happening objectively with the technology. So that's the trick. I think a lot of the VR journalists are in the process right now at this moment they're wrapping up their initial reviews that they've had access to the Valve Index for a number of weeks now, and now they're going to be coming out with their big reviews, trying to put forth to the general public what it is about this system that makes it so compelling. So I've had a chance to try a variety of different experiences with the Valve Index, and I agree with a number of different things that Ian is saying. First of all, there is some compelling things about the comfort, and I'll be diving into my own experience into that, I'd say by and far the biggest innovation that is happening with the Valve Index is this sense of hand presence with the Knuckles controllers because it's basically wrapping around your hands so you can actually open your hand completely and to be able to grab things. And I think there's just something different about being able to open and close your hands and to throw objects. It's just a completely different experience. It kind of takes this sense of embodied presence and hand presence to the complete next level. And I'm excited to see where developers take this. Now, I think there's a general VR market and economic question here, which I think is the broader context of these variety of different tradeoffs. And so you have PC VR and you have console VR. And I think this moment actually is a very interesting moment. being at F8 because it's basically like Facebook saying, this is what we think the future is and where we're putting our investment and our energy and our focus. And at the same time, Valve is providing a contrast saying, this is where we're providing our focus. So Oculus had PC VR, they have Oculus Rift, but they launched the Rift S, which doesn't have external trackers. And so it means that everything for the PC VR, their tethered version, the high end version, It no longer has external tracking, which means that for some games, first-person shooters in particular, there is all these things like if you're using a first-person shooter with one of these ProTubes or things that are trying to hold your hand in place, and if you're holding a gun, you have your trigger hand that is basically occluded from the headset. And so there's been a lot of people reporting using the Rift S of how they've had all these variety of different tracking issues with using ProTube and the ways that they usually hold. up their gun because they have to have it close enough to their eyes to be able to see through the scope and so there's certain use cases whether it's like shooting a bow and arrow or holding a gun in some of these first person shooters where one of your hands just becomes occluded and it loses tracking and so there's advantages to having external tracking But there's also a whole other sort of trade-off of the cost and the comfort and the portability, the tetherless nature of the Oculus Quest. And so I think generally I'd say that Oculus is going for scale, they're going more or less towards the direction of the Quest. If I were to say, like where in five years is Facebook gonna be putting most of their energy? It's gonna be in the Quest, it's gonna be in the mobile space. And I think they've, just by taking away the external cameras, which have been a pain for a lot of people, it also doesn't give you as high-fidelity tracking for certain use cases. And I think contrast to that, on the other side is Valve, who's saying, we are investing in the future of high-end, the best VR experience you could possibly have. And if we kind of roll back the clock to when Oculus was first launching a lot of these first initial versions of Oculus Rift, Like they were saying we're gonna launch the rift with the controllers, you know Just 2d controllers and I think in the background valve was working on the valve room. They were working on like how can we have the absolute best? Experience because you know in some ways valve is a non-hierarchical company. They have people that are basically rallying other employees to work on various different projects and they found that their employees were a going into this room, this VR room, and that was the most compelling. And so Valve went all in with the room scale, and they were like, we're going all room scale, six degree of freedom tracking, and they nailed it. And Oculus didn't even launch with the Oculus Touch controllers. It took them a whole other... nine months before they even came out with the Oculus Touch controllers. And at Oculus Connect 3, on the stage, Oculus had basically announced, hey, we're going to have like room scale tracking as well, but you're going to need this third camera. And I think that was at that point, that was completely unsupported. The developers at that point didn't even have support from Facebook to implement it. A lot of the burden for developing and supporting that fell onto the developers at that point. And so it was always kind of like a half-baked solution. It wasn't really fully thought out to have like room scale for Oculus and for the longest time Oculus is like you have to develop within your experience 180 degrees meaning that they weren't even supporting out-of-the-box officially room scale you always had to sort of deprecate to this 180 degree front-facing camera arrangement default which meant that developers had to completely redesign and develop so many of the different gameplay I mean the difference between 180 versus 360 is huge. And so there's so many different trade-offs and design decisions that Facebook really never was fully supporting that. Anyway, that was a whole history, but Valve has always been kind of pushing that edge of that room scale. And I think they're continuing to do that with the Valve Index because they're doubling down with like saying, okay, we're going to make this even more expensive than the previous headsets, but we're going to make it like super high fidelity. We're going to make the tracking just super tight and And also the sense of hand presence that you get is just way above and beyond anything else that I've experienced in VR. And so there was a launch party at the Valve headquarters on Thursday, June 27, 2019, and a video of Gabe Newell, the founder of Valve, he was saying the next steps is that they're going to be focusing on wider distribution, lower cost, it's going to be lighter, better ergonomics. This is a little bit more of the speculative things in the future. They're experimenting with untethered index. They're also looking at revolutionary display and optical technologies, bigger tracking volumes and new Valve VR games. And so Valve is like, we're going all in with PC VR and saying like that there's still a future and a market for people who want the absolute best immersive experiences. But to just kind of summarize all that is that I think in some ways Oculus is going to be deprioritizing high-end VR. Like at the end of the day they're making this decision to go with inside-out tracking and that I think eventually is just going to lead into them focusing and prioritizing much more the Quest over the Rift S. I mean even the production of the Rift S was offloaded onto Lenovo, and I've just seen a variety of different people having different issues with quality assurance and production quality. I mean, the Quest is super tight. It's dedicated to a lot of engineering resources, and it's a solid platform. And I think the Rift S is a little bit of like the second priority, and it's more deprioritized. And I think Valve is coming forth and saying, hey, we're going to come up with the absolute best VR headset that we could possibly can. Now, the relationship between HTC, I think, is an interesting wild card. Like, what is happening there? You look at something like the HTC Vive Pro, which launched at the GDC 2018, was the first time that I saw some of those different headsets. And there were developers that were complaining about the audio quality with the HTC Vive Pro. And so, I don't know the full backstory as in what's happening with HTC and Valve. But I can say that the Valve Index is a lot better in so many different dimensions than any of the HTC dedicated products that I've seen that's come out since the original HTC Vive, which I see is a very tight collaboration with Valve and HTC in that the other headsets don't seem to have as much direct collaboration with the Valve engineers. It seems like that Valve kind of went off on their own and started to develop their own HMD with the Index. So that's a whole other sort of dynamic that'll be interesting to see how that plays out. So that's a bit of the broader context. I'm going to step into some specific thoughts about my experiences with the valve index, since I did have some time to use it before it's launched. So I'm going to list three of the top embodied experiences that I think show something that's unique or different about the valve index. And so first of all, there's this experience called moon dust, where you're on the moon and you're. throwing around different objects, you're able to play with gravity. It's a super fun, compelling playground and tech demo for the Knuckles. And I had a lot of fun playing around it for a long time. And the thing that was really striking was to be able to just pick up and throw objects, especially throwing objects in zero gravity. And what I would say is that it's super seamless. You're playing fetch with these little computer guys that have legs and you're throwing a portal robot. They're going to get it and they're thrown up to you so you can catch it and wind back and throw it. So whenever you throw something in VR, it's often like abstracted through something like your index finger where you're holding onto the trigger and you're letting go to the trigger at a certain time. But with the knuckles, you're actually literally just opening up your entire hand. And phenomenologically, that is just telling something different to your brain. It just actually makes you feel like you're grabbing objects more. Like when you open up your hand and you close it, then you feel that there's something there. It just makes it feel like you're actually holding those objects. And I think that is the thing that is going to be the deep sense of embodied presence, the deep sense of being able to actually pick up objects and to throw them. The trade-off is that to make sure that when you're throwing objects that you don't actually like literally throw your controller across the room then you have to have this tight thing around your hand and you don't want to have it too tight as to like cut off your circulation and so you want to have it a little loose but at the same time you don't want to get so immersed into the game that you're like violently throwing stuff across the room that you like literally project the controller across the room and so That's the trade-off that like originally had it a little bit too tight So it was cutting off a little bit my circulation and I loosened up it a little bit and then I was like, okay I have to make sure that I don't Chuck my controller across the room So that's something I think that people will have to play with a little bit just making sure that it's tight enough that it doesn't fly off but it's also comfortable enough that it's not cutting off your circulation and Another experience I had was within Vacation Simulator, building sandcastles on the beach, where you're given instructions as to what you're supposed to build, and you have to see it from different angles, and you actually build up using all the different objects. It's a little bit of this 3D puzzle that you have to put together, and it's super fun and compelling. And so you're essentially like picking up objects and you're placing them. And I just felt like I was a kid picking up these like metaphoric Lego blocks and building up this thing and, you know, I'd get it wrong sometimes and then shift it and iterate. But it just gave me this deep sense of actually being able to pick up these little blocks and give me this deep sense of presence. So Vacation Simulator, I think, has a lot of experiences like that. Now, on the other hand, I did see that sometimes when you're trying to pick up objects with your hand, it doesn't always get it right the very first time whereas it was almost like completely rock solid with the trigger it was like inevitable that you'd be able to pick up an object with a trigger but there's this trade-off where you have this deeper sense of embodied presence and so sometimes you just want to be able to quickly grab things and know that it's absolutely going to work with the trigger but in some cases with how the key bindings are determined it actually takes away your ability to pick up objects using the trigger. And so I would like to see, personally, developers still give the option as to whether or not people wanted to still use the trigger or to, you know, maybe add it as an additional thing, but not to force people to only use the capacitive grip. So I think that's a user experience trade-off that is also like can be very fatiguing if you're like opening closing your hands quite a bit within a game that can actually get kind of tiring and so Sometimes having a some level of abstraction can be useful in certain ways, but the capacitive touch is like super solid I mean it was able to like detect my hands in a way that Really felt like I had this deep sense of hand presence and so the final experience that I just want to share was playing the rock-paper-scissors within the Aperture Hand Lab, which was done by Cloud Head Games. And so at the end, you're doing like a rock, paper, scissors experience. And so just to be able to do the paper gesture where you're actually literally opening up your hand, like you can't really do that in other controllers where you just open up your hand completely to make the paper symbol. you would have to, you know, in some ways do some sort of like abstraction on these other controllers. But with the Knuckles, also, I guess they're technically called the Valve Index Controllers now, but colloquially, a lot of the developers still call them Knuckles Controllers. But the Valve Index Controllers, you can open up your hand completely. So that was another experience where I thought, okay, this is something that is new that I wouldn't be able to do before. And so I think that just in social dynamics and social gesturing, you're going to be able to use your hands a lot more. It'll be interesting for me to see whether or not like sign language is going to be actually be possible now for some people who are deaf to be able to actually get the fidelity that you need within this physical controller. I don't know. I think that's yet to be seen. So another experiences that I had, I did the blue and the clarity of the graphics, I think really comes through when you watch something like the blue, just it's absolutely crystal clear. The fidelity is amazing. I did find that there's a eye relief where you can determine how close the headset is to your eyes. I think by default, it's like the closest to your eyes, which has the highest field of view when it's closer to your eyes. And then when, as you do the eye relief, it actually lessens your field of view, but sometimes it makes it a little bit more comfortable. I think it was so tight that it was like pushing my glasses up against my face, and it took me a while to actually realize, oh, I can actually like change the eye relief here. And that actually made a big difference in terms of the comfort. I also went into big screen and watched a 4K video, and it is absolutely just amazing to see the clarity of resolution that you get. Especially when you're in something like big screen where you're in this big theater and you can actually just watch this movie and the big question I had was how easy is it to read text and while it's not perfect to be able to actually have enough high resolution to look at like a 1080p monitor and You can read text in ways that you wouldn't be able to read text before in previous iterations. And especially if you increase the font, a few font sizes, I think it's starting to get to the point where a lot of people are probably going to see that you can actually go into VR and be able to do specific work that maybe do coding or do creative work or do things where you actually have to read text in different ways. I wouldn't want to read too much text for too long because I think there is a certain amount of eye strain that still happens within VR. but I do expect to see people starting to be able to do more productivity work within VR with the Index. I do think that developers will have to implement the controllers in some ways, like the key bindings are not automatic. They are, I'd say, more similar to the Oculus Touch controllers where there's the joystick and you have the two buttons and there's actually an additional capacitive slider that's on there as well. So I think there's actually an additional input that's not on the touch controllers. But I know that Ben Lange has used something like Revive to be able to take his Oculus experiences and because the original Valve controllers didn't have as many buttons or controls that didn't exactly map onto paradigm of what the Oculus Touch and the Oculus Quest controllers had. Now with the Knuckles controller it's actually more in alignment and parity. So we have a little bit of this convergence where a lot of the user interactions that I think were originally developed out with the Oculus Touch are starting to come to the Index. So there's some professional applications like I'd say Tilt Brush is a good example where there's actually a lot of very sophisticated ways to do like undo buttons and you know I was able to do a drawing within Tilt Brush and spend quite a lot of time in it and to learn some of the abstractions they have with the buttons and having those buttons there are super useful and Something like Tilt Brush I think really uses some of the affordances of what you can do with a lot of those different controllers. So if you haven't done Tilt Brush within either the Quest or Oculus Touch on the Rift then definitely try out Tilt Brush with the Knuckles controllers because I think there's a lot of new user interaction paradigms that are I think going to be pretty standard in terms of how to get around these spatialized menu systems and using the different buttons in different ways. That's encouraging to see that there is in some sense a convergence to have more singular user interaction paradigms, at least between the Rift and Index. And I think the next iteration of PSVR, hopefully there'll be additional convergence into these similar kind of design patterns with the joystick, with the two buttons and I think we'll see what happens with PSVR eventually here. Hopefully with the PlayStation 5 that's been announced, there hasn't been the second iteration of the PSVR. They just said that the existing PSVR is going to be compatible with the PlayStation 5, but we haven't got more details as to what the next iteration PSVR is going to be coming from Sony. So, uh, but sometimes because the key bindings are different and separate, uh, sometimes a game just won't have the knuckles implemented. And so like, there's a couple of experiences that haven't launched their initial knuckles support yet. And like, just for like rec room and there's actually a branch of Arizona sunshine that had. knuckles implemented and I tried the one that didn't have it and you just get stuck sometimes. Sometimes you'll be in a game and it'll tell you to teleport and you're like well the key binding isn't like set up correctly so you can't actually teleport. So that's something that'll be interesting to see like is there going to be like a customized default knuckles key binding translation that people can automatically port in and then even if the developers haven't implemented the key bindings for the index controllers, are they still going to be able to be possible to play the game? So I think that's a problem where you just go into a game and if they don't have it implemented then you just get stuck within that experience. That's not a great experience but I expect that to be more of a short-term thing. Hopefully there'll be some solutions to be able to get around that but that's just something I ran into a couple of times. So I'm gonna go into a few of the things that I personally experienced. I'm very hesitant to say these are gonna be things that people universally experience because there's so many things that are very specific to me, things that are specific to my system. I really resonated with what Anne was saying, which is like he goes out, he tries the index, and then he's not able to talk to any of his other reporters from Upload VR and to be able to compare and contrast what he saw versus what he experienced. There's this moment right now where all of these reviews are gonna be coming out at 10 a.m. and usually I like to look through what other people say and then I usually do my podcast. But I figured this time I'd go through and give my own phenomenal experiences and had this conversation with Anne and kind of share some of my own impressions. But I think there is this communal aspect of seeing what the consensus is, what the community says. I love to listen to what Ben Lang of Road to VR, I think he does the absolute most comprehensive breakdowns of the technology I think he's the most objective and rigorous and he goes through and plays the most he's really puts the technology through its paces and then I'll look through like tested and what those guys are saying usually they do a really great breakdown I think from a video perspective they usually do the most comprehensive like video takes out there, and they've been out there doing the hardware testing and technology. I personally haven't been as focused lately on trying to do the hardware reviews. I feel like there's so many interesting things about the software and the phenomenal experience. So I'm hesitant to sort of get too much into the weeds of the technical details. I think go to Roto VR, Ben Lang, to be able to read his take. Go to Tested to see some of the other things that they may be able to. Pull up within their comprehensive video reviews look at opal of vr So those are the people that I really look to and trust in terms of what? Their takes are and if they're bringing up stuff and and then I listen to what the developers are saying because I think the developers actually have way more experience in terms of really figuring out what the true affordances of these technologies are and they've had a By far the longest time of developing and using and trying to really test the limits of what the technology is And so hopefully I'll be able to catch up with some of the developers and then of course there's the the communities what people are saying within the reddit forums and whatnot so these different takes and reports and different experiences like that. So in some ways like VR technology is asking us to like start to pay attention to our own phenomenological experiences and then you listen to journalists like myself for road to VR upload VR and tested and you like you see what they have to say and you're able to test what you experience with what the community's consensus is. So With all that as a disclaimer, here's some of my other experiences. So I did find some fatiguing experiences with the Knuckles controllers. Like I said, there was, you know, had a little bit too tight. And I think that over time, you can find a spot where it doesn't necessarily have as much of a fatiguing trade-off there. I did experience some frame drops on Beat Saber. The minimum specification for the video card is a 970, but it's recommended that you have a 1070. So I don't have the recommended card. I have a GTX 980 that I got back like 2015, so I've had it for like over four years now. I haven't updated or upgraded my PC at all. It's my first PC in a long, long time. So they're recommending a 1070. So it could be that some of my minimum specification experiences could be just a function of my min-spec machine, or it just could be a function that maybe the latest iteration of Beat Saber wasn't launched, but I did experience some frame drops. So that's just something to look out for. And so I have seen that there is upwards of like 144 Hertz or 120 Hertz. I'm not sure exactly what the target frame rate is, if it's still 90 or 144. But if they are targeting these higher frame rates, then if you're at a machine that is at the low end, then you may find some performance issues with some of these different experiences. Now, technically, the developers need to kind of optimize for the minimum specifications. So at this point, it's still pretty early. So you may find that there may be a few more iterations that are needed for some of this optimization that needs to happen with VR. VR needs a lot of optimization. So as I was starting to use this headset, there was a bit of needing to shift it and find kind of like a sweet spot I guess like when you put on a headset there's a bit of a sweet spot but I found that sometimes the headset would kind of subtly shift up or down and that it would kind of go blurry which meant that I'd have to kind of adjust it in different ways and so for me it was a little bit temperamental until eventually I think I got it into a good place but again that could be just my head shape my size you know I think it's difficult for me to say that this is a universal thing I think everybody's gonna have to kind of find their own way of finding a sweet spot within a VR headset. It could be just a normal process for all VR headsets. They have to kind of go through that process. Now with the Oculus Quest, it does have quite a lot of like heavy fronted weight. And so like the weight distribution on the Quest is actually I think worse than Oculus Rift just because it's like so much more technologies in the Quest. And so similarly in Index, it does feel like there's a little bit of heavy weightedness and that like the weight distribution isn't in a way that takes off that weight. So I did feel like that there was a little bit of that weight pressing up my head for that long-term use. But I'll be curious to hear what other people say about their experiences of the long-term use in terms of that comfort. But that's a very subjective thing in terms of how comfortable it is to use over long periods of time. And I felt like it took a little bit while for me to kind of find that sweet spot and being able to find the settings within the headset to be able to really make sure that it was on my head and being able to just kind of slip on and find that sweet spot. I think over time, I was able to do that faster and faster. But in the beginning, I think there was a little bit more of a thrashing of trying to actually find that sweet spot. It does have the eye relief. And so, like I said, I had to kind of find the right adjustment. I ended up pushing out all the way just to have a little bit more of a comfortable experience. And I think a lot of the issues that I was having with the comfort and finding the sweet spot was because I modified the eye relief. Now the audio is interesting because like the headphones like if you are familiar with using either the HEC Vive or the HEC Vive Pro you have these like headphones that kind of very much are touching your ear and in a lot of ways the sound is being projected into your ear and there's a certain level of privacy in that way but With the Index, it doesn't go over your ear. At first it was really uncomfortable, like I wanted it to actually be touching my ear just because I think I'm so familiar with that being the case. But it's kind of projecting it into your ear and it's kind of open air in some ways. If you're in your own room, you have your own private room, I don't think that's gonna be much of a problem, but I do expect that if you're in a context with other people in that same room, then you may start to hear those experiences. And I feel like that was a design decision and a trade-off where I think they're really targeting you being in your own room and really having this sense of secure, safe privacy. But if you're not having that, then I think that might be an issue for some people, especially if there's a lot of ambient noise within an environment. So for example, going to these different trade shows and film festival environments, like you want to have like something completely over your ear to be able to like block out the sound there. And I feel like there's going to be a little bit of like, because it doesn't have that, it's going to be harder to show the valve index at these trade shows and film festivals, just because it's, you're going to get all this ambient noise. It's not completely isolated out, or you want to be able to take off those headphones and be able to do like external audio. But if people don't go to the trouble to do that, then you're kind of having this situation where you're using the directional audio, but you have to deal with a lot of the ambient noises in that environment. And so for me, in my computer room, I've got this very loud computer that's like got this home. And so before when I was in VR, I wasn't hearing that at all because it would just completely isolate that out. But I was starting to hear that and it was like, I noticed it for the first time. So because I do a lot of coverage at these different conferences and in these different contexts where it is open air, You might want to think about doing over-the-ear headphones if you're doing something in an environment where you want people to absolutely hear everything that's happening. But the audio quality does sound great. At the GDC 2018, when the HEC Vive Pro was first being launched, I heard from a number of different developers that their frequency response for the HEC Vive Pro was off, like it was very tinny. And you can tell the difference if you listen to the HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro, like the audio I think got a lot worse with the HTC Vive Pro. And I'm not sure if that's something that really catalyzed like Valve to be like, you know, hey, maybe we should continue to do our own headsets above and beyond what HTC is doing because they kind of went down this path where the next generations I don't think were the same level of quality as the initial one, especially when it came to audio. So the audio quality does sound great but like I said it does have like this kind of projected open air quality to it. Now the haptics in these controllers don't feel like subjectively they don't feel as powerful as the wand controllers and I don't know if that's just because it's lower power or they're smaller but I did find there's a little bit more inconsistency in something like Beat Saber which I feel like is a game where you want to have the haptic feedback and I think it becomes very clear if it's not consistent or powerful. And so that's something to pay attention to in terms of the haptic differences that you get. I was really happy with the haptic feedback that I got both from the WAN controllers but also with the Oculus Quest controllers, but the haptic feedback that I was getting within the Oculus Index within Beat Saber wasn't at the level that I was really at. Now, again, that could be something technologically that just hasn't been implemented yet. So I think that's just something to wait and see. But it's also just something to pay attention to. Subjectively, the haptic feedback wasn't as strong as the previous iterations. Now, just as a final thought here, I think when you're really looking at this in terms of the big players within the PC VR, you really have Oculus and Valve and HTC. So I'd say that HTC seems to be going in the direction of really focusing on enterprise applications. Oculus seems really gooey going in this direction of the mobile and inside-out tracking and because of that there's gonna be different trade-offs that in the future I wouldn't be surprised if Facebook and Oculus just completely abandons the PC VR now I think that's not gonna be possible for them to do but I think a lot of their energy is being put forth into this more closely and tightly controlled platform. And, you know, they're saying that the Rift S is more of like the opportunity to do the open innovation, but from a lot of developers, I feel like what is happening on Steam and SteamVR is like the most open type of platform. And also just from the differences between Facebook and Valve is Valve being a private company that's really focused on ideas and concepts and really pushing forward the technology, despite the fact that it may have a high price point. I think that there's a market there, like the Valve Index I think sold out pretty quickly. there's certainly enough demand but the question is like how big is that demand is it going to be growing from that pc market or is it the same people that have been buying all the variety of different headsets that are demanding the latest and greatest but i feel like what gabe had said and told to the employees there during the launch party in this video that was Released was essentially saying that there's this iterative process that valve has where they put something out and then the second iteration Leads to the next thing, you know and the progression of their different games and what that eventually leads to I feel like they're in this similar position where they're just more like artists that are following their own artistic intuition of trying to track what the most compelling is and And there's a big difference between Valve and Facebook slash Oculus when it comes to something like GDC where at GDC that's an opportunity for Oculus to kind of put forth their most highly polished games. It's more of a marketing event where here are the games that are about to come out and go and see what these latest titles are going to be launching here soon, whereas Valve tends to treat it more of a opportunity to show the wider development community like what's even possible technologically. So they're much more concerned about the ideas and a lot of the experiences that you may see at GDC for valve or much more into like this what's even possible with the technology and so in that sense like there's a certain amount of Idealism and chasing the ideas and really pushing for the technology in a way that is counteracting and creating a different market dynamic to what Facebook is doing and what Facebook is doing is saying hey, you know, we want to have a much more pragmatic large viable ecosystem and And so we're going to focus on portability and price and tetherless experiences, mobile experiences that are just easy to get into people's hands. And there's a variety of different trade-offs that come with that. And then Valve is like, well, okay, that's great. Well, we still think that there's a future in like high-end gaming and the PC and what you can do with the open platform of the PC. And so While Facebook and Oculus is moving more towards this closed walled garden app ecosystem, you see Valve that it's kind of doubling down and making it even easier for developers to put things up on Steam and to create this alternative that is much more open. And whereas Facebook is potentially going into this Scale to be able to do, you know things like surveillance capitalism and marketing and you know, who knows what else but they're making a huge consumer play That's super important, but it's also important to have these alternative platforms that are there as well and I think that to have this opportunity for people to make a choice and however, it's not an equal choice because you have to have a huge amount of resources and money to be able to get into this high end PC gaming. But hopefully what that will put forward in the future is this open app ecosystem that eventually makes it much more cheaper and affordable and an opportunity to have this open innovation. So I'm super excited to see where this all goes. Like I said, I think there's new phenomenological experiences that are possible with these hand track controllers that are allowing you this deep sense of hand presence. And I feel like that's kind of like the big takeaway for me. And it's at this high end fidelity that has external tracking that is just going to be super solid and is going to be the foundation for the future of PC VR gaming. 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 enjoyed the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a license-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So, you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.