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So what is SteamVR?

Valve made an announcement last week that they would be unveiling their offerings to the Virtual Reality market during the Games Developer Conference (GDC) in California this week. However, during the opening of another conference, Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona yesterday, HTC dropped the ball on the Re Vive (aka The Vive).

At first it was unclear whether this was an entirely separate project, but it now seems that the SteamVR that Valve were hinting to was not just a piece of hardware, but a collection of systems. The specs for the Vive are impressive in their own, as is their release schedule. Developers should expect to have their hands on development kits soon, with the Vive scheduled to be publicly available by holiday season this year. It boasts a 1,200 by 1,080 pixel screen in front of each eye, and a refresh rates of 90 frames per second. Stats that far exceed those of the current Oculus development kits.

ViveTech heads will be most excited about the tracking capabilities of the Vive. Infra red sensors on the headset paired with accelerometer and gyroscope will track head rotation to 1/10th of a degree, but the impressive part is the announcement of a “Steam VR basestation.” Though we know little of what these are, coupling the Vive headset with a pair of these allows you to be tracked walking around in a 15ft by 15ft area.

Along with the headset are provided a pair of VR game controllers for your hands. The position of each controller is also tracked fully in 3D space, presumably allowing for a solid enough hand tracking functionality that could make Surgeon Simulator a hell of a lot easier to play.

fishingScrolling further down the HTC Vive website there is an impressive collection of content partners working on the Vive. One of which is DoveTail games, the new publishers of Train Simulator, Microsoft Flight Simulator and their own game, DoveTail Games Fishing. DoveTail have just confirmed that Fishing will be a featured demo during the SteamVR showcase at GDC. Chet Faliszek of Valve has said, “Dovetail Games has long been a successful partner of Steam, and we’re very excited to be working in continued partnership with them to show our new virtual reality hardware, SteamVR at GDC.”

More information about SteamVR will undoubtably come out over the next few days, but this early announcement of The Vive, the base stations and the game controls looks as if Valve are taking Virtual Reality gaming to the next level. As for an announcement on Half Life 3…

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