In a talk at an Auckland, New Zealand area high school back in May, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell revealed they’re making “big investments in new headsets and games,” something he hopes will prepare the company for a future of brain-computer interfaces (BCI). 

Newell has been living in New Zealand for the past few months, which has been comparatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to strict measures in that country. In a public talk at Auckland’s Sancta Maria College, a local Catholic high school, Newell spoke a bit about his vision for the future of gaming and the technologies the company was investing in to make that happen.

The event was captured on video by Reddit user ‘Odysseic’ (web archive), however a recent tweet by VR designer and tech analyst Brad Lynch revealed a smaller soundbite taken from a different angle that pointed out what went largely unreported.

Valve, which created the high-end PC VR headset Valve Index and award-winning PC VR title Half-Life: Alyx (2020), is still investing “big” in new headsets and games.

Image courtesy Sancta Maria College

On stage, Newell took several questions from students, some of which landed on Valve’s involvement in immersive technologies such as AR, VR, and BCI. To Newell, AR and VR aren’t end goals as such, but rather steps along the way to a future of widespread BCI, something he’s likened many times in the past to The Matrix in terms of how immersive and interactive the technology will be.

“There are interesting questions, like: are things sort of stable end goals or are they transition points? My view, which is not in the accepted middle realm, is that VR and AR are transition points towards brain-computer interfaces. Everything you have to do in terms of controls in games, in terms of understanding visual processing, in terms of competent design are leading you towards brain-computer interfaces and what they do.”

Continuing:

“I think brain-computer interfaces are going to be incredibly disruptive, one of the more disruptive technology transitions we’re going to go through. So I think it’s super valuable. We’re making big investments in new headsets and games for those application categories, but also looking further down the road and saying, ‘what’s that evolve into?'”

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Answering a question on whether he was happy with the current direction immersive technologies are taking, Newell maintained that although Half-Life: Alyx demonstrates what the company thinks VR is capable of right now, more is yet to come.

Half-Life: Alyx was sort of our best statement on what we think the opportunities are, and I think that encapsulates our current best thinking on that. And it also informs the decisions we’re making on the next generation of headsets we’re developing.”

It isn’t clear what type of headsets and games the company is investing “big” in; Newell didn’t specify where on the spectrum those fit in terms of AR or VR. Newell previously called BCI as an “extinction-level event” for every entertainment form that’s not actively looking at the technology. We can bet whatever the company has in store, it will be leaning into BCI in the same way it did when it partnered with HTC to build the first HTC Vive in 2015, the first consumer VR headset to ship with motion controllers.

Although we’re no closer to learning what Valve is working on behind closed doors, at least one of those headsets (note the plural) Newell might be referring to in the talk may be Valve’s work on Galea, a BCI project created in partnership with OpenBCI and eye-tracking firm Tobii. Earlier this year it was said that developer kits incorporating Tobii’s eye-tracking, design elements of Valve Index, and electroencephalography (EEG) based sensors would arrive sometime in early 2022.

Valve hasn’t issued an update on Galea since February 2021, and hasn’t revealed any other AR or VR projects in the meantime, although it’s good to know one of the biggest driving forces behind consumer VR is still continuing to invest in immersive games—irrespective of what immersive platform they may target. We’re really hoping to see what sort of games Valve has in mind too.

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  • MosBen

    I remember Newell talking about BCI back in the early days of this iteration of VR, the 2012-2014 time frame. At the time he said that it was closer than people realized, which is likely still true since it’s not something most people think about much. I’m not a neurologist, but I feel like EEGs have been shown to be pretty questionable in their use in a variety of studies about brain activity over the last several years, so I’m not extremely bullish on the idea that they’ll be really game changing, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

    • kontis

      Gaben has a tendency to look at prototype in lab and talk about it like it will be on the shelfs in a year, but then it’s either too expensive or not possible to mass manufacture. This is what happened with the Vader prototype.

      That’s also the history of Magic Leap. For years some high profile people were talking about stationary bulky prototype they tried there that completely blew their mind with things that they didn’t knew were possible with current technology, but then Magic Leap could never release it as a product.
      This is why people thought it was a scam and yet they were getting a ton of money from investors.

  • wheeler

    If HLA is–as Gabe states–to inform the direction the company takes with VR hardware, I can’t help but notice that many of the challenges they kept running into were input and feedback related. E.g. one of the major issues developers currently have to contend with when designing VR games is inferring the intent of the player’s motion controller inputs. A variety of heuristics and simplifications are employed in order to make e.g. opening doors “feel good” and match user expectations. This is why Valve spent 3 months going back and forth with testers to isolate what kind of door opening mechanics would “feel good” with the provided VR hardware at the time. The same approach was applied to many other interactions in HLA.

    This also explains why they limited the scope of their interactions to such a small set of things and avoided things like e.g. two handed weapons and body mounted objects. I was initially very critical of this (and still personally prefer at least somewhat more diverse VR mechanics because I am more tolerant of jank) but I have a better appreciation for why they did it at this point. There are just many fundamental limits with the motion controllers we have today and having e.g. highly accurate finger tracking does nothing to address such problems.

    Personally, I see this problem as largely being feedback related: the user has an “internal” simulation of their expectations about the game simulation and also intent in mind–an action they want to impart on the game simulation, but constant feedback along many dimensions is necessary to modulate/refine that and keep the two simulations in sync temporally. E.g., when you reach your hand for a door knob but you don’t “feel” the door knob (or even just that “something”–e.g. the door itself–is intersecting/blocking your hand), you stick your hand through the door when trying to open it or completely miss it–or even accidentally shut the door when passing through the door and returning your hand to your side. So when that feedback isn’t provided, your internal simulation goes out of sync with the game simulation, expectations aren’t met, your agency feels crippled, etc etc–it “feels janky”.

    I use the door example here because this is what Valve focused on in their game dev talk prior to HLA’s release. However the same thing applies to not just opening doors, but also picking up objects, throwing objects, grabbing objects mounted on our bodies, reloading a firearm, and other “basic” things we try to do in VR today, and also much more complex things like wielding objects (melee), climbing, near field interactions with other AIs, and so on.

    Therefore, while everyone seems largely focused on improvements in display quality (and I certainly am as well), I am excited to see what Valve does with VR input and feedback through motion controllers. While improvements in headsets will improve comfort/fatigue and fidelity, improvements in input and feedback will permit innovation in the space of actual VR mechanics. Right now I feel that the medium is quite bottlenecked by the limitations of motion controllers. Various Valve developers have also stated that they find motion controllers to be the most interesting aspect of the medium, more so than the display. However, I’ve yet to see anything in terms of patents or leaks that indicate what kind of innovations they’re planning for motion controllers (other than an inside out tracking system that optionally functions with lighthouse)

    • silvaring

      Isn’t that why companies like Sony are investing in Dualsense (and the company that made this tech for the switch / ps5). Won’t Dualsense like tech be ‘good enough’ for VR in most use cases? Like simple ‘rumble motors’ were good enough back in the day for the PS1 and other 3D games. As for hand tracking feedback we don’t yet have a simple and cheap accessory, but I don’t think its a bottleneck I think its just timing, because we don’t even have fast and accurate enough hand tracking yet. I imagine the glove / gloves will probably range from cheap to expensive, with the cheap ones having simple ‘vibration’ to be good enough for what they will be used for (menu navigation), while the more expensive ones will have better tech and be used for different use cases (like how studio / DJ headphones are tailored towards different individuals depending on what they need to hear, or in this case, ‘feel’).

      • wheeler

        There are some technical differences in the haptics that existing motion controllers (with e.g. LRAs) provide vs the haptics in PS5 and PSVR2 controllers, but they present the same limitations. Vibration alone provides no spatial information–something that conveys information about directional and rotational forces, and that is necessary to have a spatial sense of what’s happening in the virtual environment. Existing VR games already use vibration to signal to the user various things about contact but without any spatial information it is extremely limited and has little meaning to the user (carries very little information).

        Gloves are a possibility in the future but I think that’s a way off. The state of the art is Haptx (which costs tens of thousands of dollars last I checked) but from what I’ve read there is still a good deal of disconnect. I suspect that when you present the user with the simulation an entire hand and all of the fingers (instead of the much more simple abstractions like motion controllers), the expectations the user has skyrocket and inconsistences become very unforgiving. There are an incredible number of sensors in the human hand and the subtlety with which a human can manipulate objects through them presents an incredibly high bar for anyone trying to directly simulate that. Sort of like an “uncanny valley” thing except for hand simulation. Moreover, any such device would need to have the subtlety and generality to simulate something akin to joysticks, dpads, and buttons, and there’s current no glove with a combination of force feedback, touch sensation, and haptic feedback that is sufficient for this.

        Therefore I think what you’re going to see are motion controllers with existing form factors but with spatial feedback of some sort. See Miraisens (purchased by Murata) if you’re curious about one technology that may provide the necessary feedback. These haptics can actually generate the sensation of directional forces acting on the hands instead of just yet another controller with a simple vibration. Moreover, their patents talk about the possibility of creating the sensation of rotational forces. Another solution may be something like TacticalHaptics.

        • silvaring

          Spatial information isn’t necessary for most non hand based activities, as long as the tracking shows a visual representation of your hands I don’t think it will matter much because your actual hands will give you sensory feedback as you are literally moving them with your real body while in VR and your body receives those signals. What you’re talking about is for ‘push back’ interactions, which I already addressed in my comment about simple UI menu navigation, its an abstract interface there’s no ‘uncanny valley’ feeling with a mouse is there? That’s the beauty about abstract mechanics, you don’t trigger the uncanny valley feeling because people cant relate it to something they know from being human (because our ancestors never clicked mice or moved pointers around a screen). The closest you have is a general idea of how responsive that thing is compared to the other tools you wield… and that’s a matter of ergonomics it’s got little to do with realism and simulation imo.

  • I genuinely think this guy, as smart as he is, is a bit delusional about BCI’s and what they are actually capable of in the realm of reality vs fiction, and similarly for anyone who believes the same as him. Nothing I have ever seen has convinced the kind of AR/VR/MR BCI that basically takes your mind directly into a pretend world is actually technically feasible. It’s cool to see it in movies and stuff, but I think that’s where it will stay. And, sure, you can move some objects with “your mind” and turn on a switch with “your mind” but that’s a billion miles away from what people think of in terms of the “end goal” for BCIs. He, I and all of us will be long dead before any of this isn’t just wishful thinking and misguided dreaming imo, if it’s ever actually possible. Right now, MR (VR+AR) should actually be the “end goal” because there’s reality there and it can just get better and better. Now, don’t stop experimenting with BCI, but don’t drink the Kool-Aid just yet. Much like AI reaching the “singularity”, it’s fantasy for now and the foreseeable future, despite some people being easily fooled into thinking we’re basically there already.

    • kontis

      He has access to things in neuroscience that are not public. His son had NDA signed with Neuralink years ago.

      • Yeah, and I still don’t think that translates into anything of genuine value right now and likely not even in our time. And, even if one day it does materialise into something more than using our “minds” to lift objects and press 1-0 switches and the like, or even seeing “real images” just by thinking about them, I doubt it’s ever going to be what most people think of with this stuff, which is basically The Matrix. People think the future of BCIs is basically jacking in and pretty much being there inside this virutal reality in such a way that we can’t even tell if from actual realty, and that’s just hogwash imo. My gut says this is basically impossible, at least in the time any of us will still be alive, if it’s even actually possible at all in any real and meaningful way. But, hey, keep working on it because we never know, just let’s stop talking about it as though it’s some near-term goal. Pushing VR/AR/MR as far as they can possibly go, physical headsets and the like, should be the focus for the foreseeable future, and BCIs should stay in the experimentation labs where they belong, along with real versions of hover crafts and holodecks and teleportation pods and replicators, etc.

      • James Cobalt

        And many neuroscientists are saying Neuralink’s stuff is still mostly theoretical, many years away from being useful in a basic way (like helping restore simple motor functions), and too invasive, costly, and limited in scope for any sort of consumer use. Meaningful BCI will need to be surgically implanted, and training for even the basics will take ages since everyone’s brain is wired differently. Yes, stuff tends to be located in the same general area, but the neural pathways are unique to every individual. The resolution in which we can read them through the skull may inform emotion and intent, but that’s about it.

        iNCEPTIONAL’s comments are right on the mark. Non-implanted, consumer-oriented BCI will be limited to what we’ve all already seen in demonstrations (virtual clicks) – just improved to the point it’s actually somewhat useful.

        Even Galea promises are towards therapeutic purposes. Getting emotional information from the user isn’t that practical for consumer applications – we can’t expect developers to create dynamic content in response to emotions. That’s costly, with no proven benefit, and may go against the story they want to tell. Using it to help a patient overcome a phobia though – that’s a great use for this tech.

      • jimmy

        No he don’t all the neuro science is known by all the major universities he don’t know anything we dont

      • ViRGiN

        If what you say is true, then it means valve is holding back progress by keeping all the advances for themselves, essentially a walled garden. Is this what valve is about?

    • jimmy

      I talked to neuro scientific and he said we might not even see SAO full dive vr this century the technology for that is so far way from the current science we don’t even have an idea on how to even start thinking building it, what gabe is doing is ridiculously complicated gamepad that cost more than a computer

      • cataflic

        Actually we don’t understand how brain works.
        Before reproducing a system we must at list understand his functioning.
        Now we’re leaving stuff on the shelf cause a minimun lag in tracking, imagine what will happen with an interface so approximative.

    • JakeDunnegan

      FWIW, when he talks about investments, my guess its it’s stand alone headsets (or perhaps, a headset with a wire down to a belt held SteamDeck) is what he’s talking about. Which, honestly, is likely do-able by next year, if they wanted to.

      • ViRGiN

        Stop guessing about Valve. Like Valve felt the need to correct “misinformation” from VNN, all info about the project they do work, or they do not work, will come directly from Valve. So if you are not a Valve representative, then you are just selling dreams.

        • Charles Bosse

          GlaDOS voice: OH. IT’S YOU.

        • Charles Bosse

          More seriously, you don’t have to have an inside link at Valve to know what they have said publicly (and representatives of Valve have made statements that sound like the steam deck is in some ways an investment in stand alone computing for XR) nor do you have to be a Valve insider to look at the state of technology and VR investments and make some guesses on where the wind will be blowing. Certainly a statement that something could come to market should not be taken as an official announcement that it WILL come to market, but if you don’t get that it’s on you, not the person speculating.

          • ViRGiN

            Valve is also bound by laws of physics. What they are doing for Deck is definietly not suitable to be worn on your face. You’re free to keep dreaming that Valve will come back to your rescue and save VR for the day. ALL their actions so far clearly shows they are butthurt and too broke to commit to VR, and they would rather become another monopoly, this time in handheld PC market, by selling it at cost or below, essentially making all the competition that existed for years obsolete. You don’t have to be Valve insider to see for yourself, especially with 5 year evidence and countless lies said by the head of Valve itself that they are NOT interested in VR.

            Double funny that of all the people, Gabe chose High School to deliver this news 7 months ago. Wow.

          • Mex

            Of course the Steam Deck isn’t fit for VR nobody has god damn told you that it could or would. It was made as a handheld.

            And they aren’t losing money on their Steam decks they just priced it well and competitively and introduced a new handheld device that improves upon all the other garbage devices that already exist.

            Valve as a company is fully committed to VR and if you were old enough you’d understand that they take their time with projects

          • ViRGiN

            “fully committed to VR”, that made me spill my milk!

          • Mex

            You legit don’t even have a source for your claims and if you do give it to me I’ll debunk it for you child.

          • ViRGiN

            This section is a mess, what claims? Number then and you’ll have your info

          • Cless

            Did you just call Valve… “too broke”? … Are we talking about the same company here?
            Also, I might be missremembering… but weren’t you praising Facebook for becoming a monopoly in VR? (I might be mixing it up with some other user’s point though, correct me if I’m wrong)

          • ViRGiN

            No?

            Meta isn’t VR monopoly. I could name several other headsets and store fronts.

            Valve is estimated to be 12 billion net worth. You call that “not broke” to stay relevant in the next big thing?

            WhatsApp was purchased by then Facebook for 16 billions. A simple text communicator. Clearly Valve has no money to invest in hardware, ecosystem, and the people. They only have like 500 employees. You think that’s relevant size of a team? Their profits would shrink a lot if they were to go on hiring spree.

            Clearly Valve couldn’t even afford to support Onward developers, other than free pizza and company building tour, so they went with Meta instead.

          • Cless

            “whatsapp” is a “simple text communicator”… Yeah, you know, a “simple text communicator” used by about 1/3 of the world population, but sure. The fact they are close to the value of such a “simple text communicator” should tell you how big that company is.
            Valve can definitely afford many things, I’m pretty sure economically wise they are doing perfectly fine.
            You want to compare them to Facebook? Then no, of course they won’t be much compared to such a behemoth.
            But man, I do know a lot of talented devs that would love to work with Valve, but absolutely hate doing it with Facebook, I wonder if that will affect to the pool quality of people both companies can hire.
            Weren’t you a big defender of quality over quantity?

            The thing is, they are a weird company, structured in a weird way too. They are obviously capable enough to produce somewhat decent hardware, and they do have good people experimenting with stuff. Maybe something cool will come from it. How is it so hard for you to admit that?

          • ViRGiN

            Quality over quantity any day, yet you’re advocating for steam that clearly doesn’t follow this rule?

            Maybe something cool comes out of it, like the steam link, or steam controller, lol. When it does, I’ll bend a knee, not gonna try to read between the words about company who have consistently proved itself to have zero touchable care about the tech i care about.

            And yeah, a simple, free to use text communicator sold for 16 billion several years ago, vs valve company 12 billion with thousands of software offerings, built infrastructure and user base is only worth that much. It’s not like they can afford to spend 10 billion over next 10 years, especially when they definetly realise vr isn’t all that profitable, they have all the data. Then again, you seem completly fine with valve providing hosting and releasing basic hardware and nothing else, you probably still think indie developers will turn the tides and make (pc)vr successful, just needs time huh?

          • Cless

            Valve does follow that rule to the T, yes. So much so its a meme how little and how far apart the games they release are.
            Steam on the other hand, is not quality over quantity… its both. Literally anyone can put their game there which will make it so there are many many games, but good games can go there too, which brings quality too. They could, and it would be neat if, like Facebook or console manufacturers do, pay devs to specifically develop games for their platform, but apparently they don’t like doing that too much, like you said before with those FPS developers.
            But that is not what they are going for, they are going for “anyone can put their game here, we take a cut, the end” approach (not saying I like it or not, just putting it there).

            Steam overall is a different beast. With how Valve works as a company, I wouldn’t put it past to them that the guys working on the steam store barely if ever talk to the guys in Steam VR.

            Indie developers will never turn the tides on anything. VR doesn’t need a cool boom indie title (though that wouldn’t be bad), they need AA studios to do something enticing, or AAA to invest into it (which is not going to happen yet, obviously).

            Like I said before, I don’t even like VR genre too much, to my the “future” of VR on the mainstream media is in doing pretty much what the people at Ninja Theory and QLOC did. Take a good game that works in console/PC (Like hellblade), now give it a nice VR playable version.
            But again, I’m not the norm here. I do get the impression the industry will settle there in the mid/long term though.

          • Charles Bosse

            Genuinely curious about what promises you see Valve as having broken.

            Also, obviously you can’t hook a Deck up to a VR headset and have good results. That doesn’t mean the technology that would do that isn’t related and the technology likely available in the next few years.

            BTW, worked at MIT physics dept. as teaching staff for a few years, so don’t lecture me on the limitations of physics. The problem of high resolution stand alone VR is a design and engineering problem, physics absolutely allows it.

          • ViRGiN

            Who said this is a resolution problem? Obviously it can go way further, in terms of panels. Now rendering in equally high resolution is just more performance costly, increasing heat, and shortening battery life, so trade offs have to be made. But there isn’t anything truly superior to XR2 on the market outside of like Apple chipsets. Deck is already reported to be loud, heavy, and hot. Of course this is pre production models, but i wouldn’t really expect huge improvements in the first iteration. Also it’s silly to claim that deck isn’t optimized for vr – like there is some low level programming that can be done to massively improve performance. It’s either optimized or not, and anything they would do for vr, would benefit non vr as well. Deck is aiming at 720p 30/60fps gaming. Upping resolution drastically cuts performance. Deck hardware is not suitable for vr, and i mean the internals, not the handheld itself.

            As for lies – which you probably won’t agree – that’s the wireless stuff, 3 games in the works, and headsets becoming cheaper, lighthouses becoming cheaper by lessening three movable parts. There was more. None of this had dates attached, or specifics like steamvr headsets will get cheaper, but Gabe is not analyzing market, he is definetly talking about his own ecosystem.

          • Charles Bosse

            I’m trying to figure out where I said the deck wasn’t optimized for VR. It’s obviously not meant for VR. What I am saying is that engineering a stand alone system with a screen attached is going to use a lot of the same supply chains, face similar design and engineering challenges and require similar problem solving to what a stand alone headset would require. I mentioned the resolution because it’s the only thing that isn’t really relevant from the steam deck and isn’t necessarily already good enough on the Index for a premium stand-alone.

            As for the lies, you are right that I don’t really agree but I appreciate the actual examples and certainly see where you are coming from. Valve is, at best, more Google than Apple in its announcements, and that’s not praise. I guess I have just been following them long enough that I take anything they say with a grain of salt but also know they can and sometimes do put out awesome stuff… but they aren’t magic. I would say a stand alone headset is possible, and that silence on VR doesn’t say much one way or the other about their long term commitment to it (but they are in it deep enough already that they couldn’t drop it and run without steep consequences, at least from the software side).

            Anyway, I’m not trying to say Valve will do anything, and JakeDunnigan clearly wasn’t either. We were simply talking about what they could reasonably do if they were on that track, and by omission also not planning to see BCI anytime soon (personally, I think it’s silly… not necessarily impossible in the long run just not actually that desirable for most people and almost certainly beyond Newell or my lifetime as any kind of consumer product). No offense to Newell, but I have seen where that tech really is at several times in the last decade and even the best versions (and I mean MIT brain lab equipment that takes up a whole room) are pretty inadequate to really recieve or give sufficient detail to even add to immersion unless you get an implant (and even then, there are serious limits, not to mention it’s literally brain surgery, which seems a bit much “to play games”). And if you were saying the physics of BCI aren’t there, I am actually inclined to agree with that, and sorry if that was your intention.

          • Charles Bosse

            PS, a decade ago I actually bought a rudimentary BCI (essentially EEG) and… boy was that not great. I’ve also absolutely volunteered for some noninvasive studies (I’m fortunately not claustrophobic) and while that tech is cool, it’s also worth remembering that its still not really enough to “know what someone is thinking” with exceptional accuracy and not even able to send a signal to the brain: our best tech for that is still exceptionally rough by comparison to what it would need to be to actually give feedback more advanced than a shock collar. Not that brain stimulation is useless or barbaric, it’s just not even really conceivable that you could do gaming with it.

        • JakeDunnegan

          I clearly said, “My guess” – last I checked, this forum allows opinions. They allow yours, lord knows why.

    • Nepenthe

      I agree about the here and now.

      However, BCIs will happen. If not in 20 years then in 200 years. Just add time.

      • You know what, so will warp drive.
        But that’s not the scope of this article.

      • Yeah, but how much time?

        I mean, if it is 200 years then I certainly don’t give one flying sh*t about it.

        But, hey, future generations are in for a real treat–or a total virtual nightmare.

        • Nepenthe

          Sure, I agree. I’m 47 and don’t plan to live past 75 (barring some radical anti-dementia and organ replacement technology — and even then I’m not sure how far into the future I really WANT to exist), so I’ve only got 28 years and then I don’t care what happens… and I want good, improved, possible VR to be the focus now… but it is fun to speculate and talk about and I do think in the fullness of time nearly anything that seems theoretically possible will come to pass. Brains and computers will merge in a variety of ways that we probably can’t even predict right now.

    • Anonymous

      I too have talked to BCI (not just neuroscientist but those who actually test various sensing and brain stimulation methods) professors in my university 10 years ago and they are all optimistic about eventual full dive as the theories look sound. The biggest concern is regulation as there is little data focusing on long term effects of brain stimulation (short sessions are of course safe). Another one being device miniturization as accurate BCI, even 10 years from now are still very bulky. And this isn’t like semiconductors where we just move to a smaller chip, new sensors or methods are needed.

    • Marcus

      I completely agree in terms of a full dive system similar to SAO, i’m not even sure something like that is possible. But from what I understood from previous talks and comments he made, the level of BCI they are talking about is not this (yet). He has talked instead about reactive games and content that changes to how you experience it. For instance the BCI in the headset could tell if you where excited or not and then add in to extra enemies to spice up gameplay and keep you engaged. That is still of huge value and would change completely how we interact with digital mediums.

      • If that’s all it is then it won’t mean anything to me. It’s much like the finger pulse sensors that Nintendo I think did with previous systems and ultimately amounted to nothing. No one really cares if a game adapts a little based on how nervous they are or how fast their heart is beating or if they are showing fear or whatever. And, personally, I don’t think that’s a good way to balance a game anyway. I really hope it’s much more than this–I don’t expect it to be though.

    • Well, BCI will eventually become a reality. I’m sure of that. The problem is when. To have something like Sword Art Online we should wait AT MINIMUM 50 years.
      But to have BCI help us in our inputs, a few years are ok, as many people in the field say. But it is just a support, not the disruptive change GabeN talks about

    • Cragheart

      Then VR won’t become mainstream. For mainstream VR, AR and Metaverse, we must have BCIs. People won’t accept the limitations and discomfort of 2021 VR or AR. No chance. Using VR for longer than 30 minutes is a really uncomfortable experience. Christopher Barnatt explains it well https://youtu.be/shW8MIbNyuM
      He believes in BCIs in 2040s, as I do. For me, the future of VR and mixed reality is for sure brain-computer interfaces. It would allow for full input and output. How will people move in VR? Omnidirectional treadmills? I don’t think so. It all needs to be easier, more convenient and better working than that. Valve is wise to look into brain interfaces. I think we will use Neuralink devices in the 2040s. Before that they will be used by people with health problems.

      • It’s a pipe dream, and if you think VR is really only going to catch on when people can use BCIs then you’re not really paying attention. I think most people would much rather put on a pair of small and comfortable glasses than attach some BCI to themselves, especially when we get into the realms of invasive versions of such tech. The future of VR for people like you and me is just smaller and better headsets and controllers, alongside some other additional ways to interface such as voice, hands free and possibly even some basic BCI, but it’s not just BCI–that’s total fantasy, imo, even in the next 20 years, regardless of what anyone else would have you believe.

  • eckehard

    Na – gott sei Dank – ml eine etwas positivere Deutung von G. Newell – natürlich wird VR nicht tot sein – es wird weitere Game- und Medien Viewtools geben – zunächst mal die Konsole – dann sicher auch mehr – i c h glaube an die Weiterentwicklung also Valve Brillen – Zusammenarbeit der Marktführer und erträgliche Clouds .. vielleicht nicht im rückständigen Europa – aber weltweit ..

    • jimmy

      English this is an English website

      • XRC

        Google translation: “Well – thank God – a slightly more positive interpretation of G. Newell – of course VR will not be dead – there will be more game and media view tools – first of all the console – then certainly more – i believe in the further development so Valve glasses – cooperation of the market leaders and bearable clouds.. maybe not in backward Europe – but worldwide..”

  • Thank God we basically have the man at the top confirming Valve is very much still in the VR space though. Some of the rumour articles in the last few days actually had me worried that Valve was basically stepping away from VR, as crazy as it sounds, which would be one of the dumbest moves in history imo.

    • ViRGiN

      Gabe saying that means absolutely NOTHING.

      He also said in 2016 headsets will get cheaper (Vive was cheaper than index), and in 2017 wireless is a solved issue, yet in almost 2022 there is still no index wireless adapter.

      I want valve out of vr, and i want it immediately. Focus on what you do best – making steam launcher 3 updates a day that changes nothing and charge 30% of every transaction

      • Pretty sure it means something. Lol

        Also, VR headsets did get cheaper, and wireless pretty much is solved. I don’t think he said you’d get it on Index specifically though, which is maybe where you are confused.

        But, no, I’m happy to see Valve in the VR space, both headsets and games, and it’s only done good as far as I can see. So I say for Valve to stay in VR.

        • ViRGiN

          Head of the company stating things that helps the perception of the company in public eyes.

          They still aren’t doing anything for VR. One swallow does not make spring, for those desperately wanting to “but alyx”

          • I would argue Valve has done more for VR than any company outside of Oculus (now Meta), from developing the tech that led to the first consumer headsets and then releasing its own Index headset and Index controllers to creating arguably the best game in VR to date and indeed helping build the most complete VR games store on the Internet.

          • ViRGiN

            I mean, it always was Oculus vs Vive, and with index released, it was always Oculus vs Index vs everybody else doesn’t matter.

            Best game in vr to date is arguably beat saber by all metrics. Alyx had it’s moment reaching 40k simultaneous players, it never got so high collectively again. Steam vr store is basically a landfill. Very little substance.

          • Beat Saber may be better than Alyx in some “it’s really perfectly suited to VR” way, but, outside of casuals, 99.9% of people will tell you that Alyx is a better game in VR than Beat Saber. I’m one of the people who would tell you that every single time. Beat Saber is fun and a good workout. Alyx was a near magical experience.

          • ViRGiN

            Gotta agree on that one, and I don’t like neither of these games.
            Everyone wants to be the next Beat Saber tho. Too many music games.

          • jimmy

            They did a lot in the early days of vr and then nothing for years

          • Jonathan Winters III

            But their biggest contribution to consumer VR is SteamVR + the thousands of games available on Steam in VR.

          • ViRGiN

            No, it’s not. It’s just going for quantity over quality. The TOP 10 games based on player count by daily average HAVE NOT CHANGED FOR THE PAST 3 YEARS! Or barely shifted, depends on the week you’re looking at. Nobody cares about the new cooking game, another beat saber clone, or another wave shooter. Come on dude.

          • JakeDunnegan

            They also do the legwork to keep the games sold in that store compatible with competitors’ headsets.

          • ViRGiN

            People been saying “buy games on steam, so when you change headsets you can continue playing them”, but everything points to it being the worst decision ever, with no crossbuy for quest, the headset that most people buy now, and they won’t transfer to psvr2 for sure, which is definetly going to be the high end vr for years to come with great library

          • Cless

            This comment shows a deep lack of understanding of how game developing works man. That’s just not how any of this works.

          • ViRGiN

            What are you even talking about?
            The point was elitists kept shilling for buying games on steam so you still have access to them when you change headsets. Turns out (surprise!) The only headset worth changing for is Quest. Sure, you can access your steam titles, but it’s only purchases made in Oculus store that transfers over. Buy PC version, get Quest included. Not a Quest fan? Then it will be PSVR2 that is worth buying, and there all your existing purchases does not exist.

            The hell that has to do with game developing? That’s not how logic works

          • Cless

            You keep talking about people that use Steam as “elitists”, but there is no such thing. people from any headset that is PC compatible, with is the huge majority uses it.
            I absolutely don’t understand how you can defend Oculus store, or Playstation’s store, yet steam, the one with the widest compatibility, no, that’s elitist somehow.

            “buy games on steam, so when you change headsets you can continue playing them” is 100% correct, and as long as you have a PC compatible headset, you will be able to play those. Quest on the other side, the second they switch from ARM architecture, say goodbye to all your library of games. Unless somehow they have the brutal amount of power to emulate those (they won’t, at least not this ore even next decade).

          • ViRGiN

            You’re clearly missing the point. Buy games where you’re going to play them these days. Who the hell is going to replay 2016 games 5 years from now? If you do, that’s rather further evidence that pcvr is dead. We are not in Golden era of vr software. There is nearly nothing available that will make people nostalgic in 10 years, like you would with let’s say Mario Kart 64 or Duke Nukem.

            You’re panicking about potential architecture switch. What if valve goes out of business and shuts down their servers?

        • ViRGiN

          Also, keep in mind this talk was in May, not recently. Now ask yourself what has happened in steamvr space during those 7 months..

          • Nl_vr

            Actually alot har happen in SteamVR beta branch prove Valve has been testing new VR stuff. Thats been proved by data mining.

          • ViRGiN

            I mean, ignore datamining and leaks, focus on official statements and real releases.

            They said in 2016 VR will get cheaper – it did, but not from Valve or it’s partners.
            In 2017 they said wireless is solved issue – almost 2022 and there is still no Valve Index wireless adapter, only HTC have done it, and it’s halving resolution in the PRO 2 model.

            If this May speech is supposed to be reliable, then they are working on new headsets and investments – so what did they invest during that 7 month time period? Clearly there was enough time to hear of something? SteamVR essentially lives off Beat Saber, Pavlov, Hot Dogs and Boneworks sales.

            I can’t name a single thing added to SteamVR this year that was substantial, and maybe somethings that should have been added long ago.

          • JakeDunnegan

            Good lord, you say this every single time. Do you know what the most played VR game is right now on Steam?

            VRChat, with 14k players. Not Beat Saber or any of the other games on Quest 2. And, as I’ve tried to tell you, price is a factor. VRChat is free. And, though Q2 can play it, it’s restricted, unless, of course, you use a PC Link or Airlink cable and use the PC version of Steam, which you insist is a waste of time.

            Over the past 30 days, the Avg players in Beat Saber has 1124 players, Alyx is at 550 avg Skyrim for VR has 262 players. A game, you notably never mention when talking about the top games in VR. Boneworks sits at 310, Blade & Sorcery has 897 concurrent players over the last 30 days. Yet another game you fail to mention, probably bc it’s not on your Quest 2 (until now and b/c of a likely sizable investment from Mr. Zuck.)

            Other notables: Superhot has 66 Average players, Into the Radius (whatever that is) has 135 average players, and Neos has 168. Pavlov has 803, Boneworks 310, Hotdogs 323, Arizona Sunshine: 110.

            You know, on Steam, that Oculus has about 60% of the VR player base. I get it, Virgin, that you aren’t one of them, but you are one choosing to block yourself off from 70% or more of the “good game” game gaming market. The Q2 alone has 32% of the VR players on Steam. (I’m one of them.)

            Sure takes an arrogant piece of work to deny one’s self access to a lot of entertainment purely b/c you want to prove a point – to no one but yourself.

            And this idea that there’s only five games with any players (or that SteamVR survives on those five) is just not supported by facts. Even rather old games like Fallout VR still have almost a 10th of the player base that BeatSaber does.

          • ViRGiN

            VRchat is mostly NOT VR users LMAO. Did that seriously flew above your head?
            The most populated app RIGHT NOW, is in count order – Rec Room, Beat Saber, Pavlov; VR exclusive apps, and outside of SteamVR clients, they do not count into the charts. Holy fucking shit, check the same stats from 3 years ago and it’s pretty much IDENTICAL.

          • Teku

            Around half of VRChat’s users are on the Quest, and those are not reported on steamcharts. I’ve insider information confirming this. Their daily active users fluctuates around 30-50k. While there is a furry community on there, and many anime fans, to claim that’s the entire community is a bit sad. It’s a pretty amazing way to hang out with your friends, as there are a lot of beautiful worlds to explore together, and some well made multiplayer experiences as well, and even their steamchart usage stats grow month over month. It is the most popular VR app, and one of the coolest things I see going on in VR at the moment.

          • ViRGiN

            What’s there to do in vrchat, except for custom avatars and maps to have conversation in?

          • JakeDunnegan

            I still don’t get the point to any of your posts, Virgin. What side of the argument are you even on? You hate Steam, so anything sold on it sucks? Despite 60% of the VR users on Steam are using Facebook equipment?

            Most people can agree that they’d like to see more VR games of all stripes. Some games are popular and get played for a long time, whether it’s Beat Saber or…in the Non VR space: Go check out Counter Strike: Global Offensive, SEVENTEEN YEARS ON, is still far and away the most popular game, with over 855k Concurrent players or Dota 2, in second place, an eight year old game, with 561k players, and PubG, a relative newcomer, has almost 350k players, and is only 4 years old. Team Fortress 2, a game with a mere 14 years under it’s belt, ranks in at #8, with over 105k concurrent players.

            Are you going to start bitching about the state of PC gaming now?

            You should. Because that’s your argument. “Old cheap games dominate what is played in the VR market, so it SUXOR!!!”

            Well, the same is true for the PC market. C’mon, go to town, man!

  • In other words, the complete opposite of that “vr is shaky at valve” that some other site posted a few days ago

    • ViRGiN

      In other news, 1000% you have not realized this happened 7 months ago, not recently. Now show me all the things valve has done for their steamvr and index in that time.

      • Well now I’m worried again.

        • ViRGiN

          I think it’s time to save up for psvr2, that’s where true high end will pivot to imo

          • Probably, yeah.
            PSVR 2 & Deckard.

          • ViRGiN

            Fuck Deckard, and everyone who even thinks about it nowadays. That includes you. I can put blind faith on PSVR2, but there is zero optimism for anything Valve.

    • It wasn’t a site who said that.
      It was Tyler “VNN” McVicker horrifficly misinterpreting things.

      • ViRGiN

        Misinterpreting? So where is the source to his claims that you have access to? This propaganda speech from Valve, presented at some random HIGH SCHOOL full of FORTNITE players is a confirmed statement that Valve is fully on board with VR and are treating it seriouisly?

        Seriously, grow up dude. You’re becoming more annoying with every ‘big’ news, reading between the words when there is nothing.
        Valve VR today is complete trash with one tech demo, and one quarter-assed game that for some reason catched up with public news while being a 5% of what HL2 used to be, and yet they all call it groundbreaking.

        • Mrfox Babbit

          Single forever.

          • ViRGiN

            Sounds like if you are not in a marriage/couple or whatever, your life is miserable.

            Steam elitists forever I guess

  • jimmy

    Just be clear this is from may 2021 and Tyler mcvicker is from November 2021 for all we know he is accurate that valve have give up on vr in the meanwhile this is lazy journalism reporting on 6 month old information that is probably irrelevant today in the circumstances of new news

    • ViRGiN

      Yup, it’s safer to assume Tyler is correct, until Valve proves themselves.
      They making a public statement that he is not an insider doesn’t really say anything, other than they got extremely butthurt (about truth being revealed?) instead of ignoring it, like they always do? Do you see them jumping online when someone claims Half Life 3 is in the works and is releasing soon? Why did they feel the need to correct this one guy in this one specific subject?

      • Is there links to this stuff?

        • ViRGiN

          Update 11/30/21: Valve has provided IGN with a comment about the reported Half-Life shooter-strategy game:

          “It’s good to view [Valve News Network content creator Tyler McVicker’s] coverage with a healthy dose of skepticism. We think it’s important to reiterate that while Tyler is a passionate gamer, he has no inside information about what goes on at Valve. As you know, any important announcements on projects that we are or aren’t working on will come directly from us.”

  • Tommy

    Wireless Index and Half-Life 3 confirmed…

  • Foreign Devil

    Does Gable plan to live to be 200 years old? Because there is no way any non-gimmick consumer BCI is coming out in his lifetime.

    • ViRGiN

      I think it’s just a desperate way of saying “do not buy the Quest, we are working on far superior stuff that even Meta does not mention; meanwhile Index still remains state of the art”

      • Cless

        Both companies are probably working on pretty interesting stuff. To see which one gets to make something that can become a viable product is the question we should be asking. In my opinion, Meta probably will be releasing something sooner, but if we get lucky, Valve might be putting out something more interesting out, even if later on.

        • ViRGiN

          You mean like Index got a hand tracking support and augmented reality from the passthrough along with inside out tracking post launch?

          Oh wait, they actually never updated anything for Index, and “frunk” remains obsolete to this day. They can’t even find companies to take advantage of their “superior” tracking solution. Only pimax implemented it, but there’s cause they aren’t capable of more than using DK1 open source schematics and replacing screens and lenses with bigger ones. HTC is focusing on their own inside out with Focus, and made a decent progress recently. Varjo doesn’t really count, and Lynx is just a devkit.

          It would be backwards to release something after Meta and not deliver anything new.

          • Cless

            I never said anything about their past in my last post, so you are taking all of this out of the blue.

            Still I think its funny how you would mention HTC, but completely ignore the Pro 2… And yeah of course, if you start to discount all the headsets that actually use it, then nobody uses their tracking tech!

            I guess that you just are against anything that company does, no matter if that might be a good thing that moves stuff forward.
            Again, I couldn’t care more about VR, because I don’t like the “VR genre of games”, I just like having a good VR visor to play 3D games in it. But denying that valve aren’t experimenting and trying to bring new things out is just flat out delusional. Again, like I said in my first comment, maybe nothing comes out of it, and if it does, definitely won’t be on time. But it might be interesting nonetheles.

          • ViRGiN

            I said HTC is focusing on inside out now, with their Focus. That clearly says there is a shift in tracking.

            But okay, let’s say I’m wrong (again). Lighthouse tracking is so great, and Valve made it purposefully open so that any company can use it. So you end up with 2016 Vive (9.18%), 2018 Pro (1.93%) 2019 their own Index (16.92%), and 2021 Pro 2 (0.41%). This is percentage of all connected headsets in steamvr as of last month. New data should be available any moment now. I don’t even feel like typing it for pimax, those numbers are laughably closer to 0%.

            So you really called me out for “ignoring” Pro 2 with it’s whooping steamvr market share of 0.41%..

          • Cless

            My bad, I misunderstood what you meant there (just in case it could be misread as such, this is not sarcastic, I actually mean it).
            I thought you were implying they were passing from lighthouse tracking to exclusively do their own tracking, even if that has been a thing they’ve been working on in parallel for years.

            And it is about 1/3 of all Steam headsets, I would say that’s not something you could just flat-out ignore. Specially when the best setups of tracking need it. Its like saying “we should ignore GPUs like the 3090, 3080 and 3070, 3060, 2080ti and 2070, 2060, 1080, 1070, 1060 (all laptop and variants included), after all, they are only a small 1/3 of the market”.
            While that is true… I don’t think we should ignore them…

          • ViRGiN

            My main point wasn’t about percentage of lighthouse tracked headsets, but rather how many companies decided to use that tech. Ignoring the index – steam does have a ton of religious fanboys – literally nobody adopted it. HTC continued it with Pro 2 due to initial relationship back in 2016. There aren’t even 3rd party cheap clones controllers using lighthouse tracking. Nothing.

            And I’m fairly confident 1060 is like the most common card with Steam users. You can still have good pc experience even with gtx970, you can always crank down settings etc, but playing on monitor follows different rules. You can’t really undersample in vr. And when you do that, it makes pcvr basically obsolete with blurry mess. You need good hardware which is simply expensive, and it’s clearly not worth the investment strictly for vr.

  • pasfish111

    Good to hear! That VR is still a thing for Valve

  • xyzs

    Do a new headset, that’s not lcd, low res fresnel with the need of extra hardware for tracking at the cost of 1k even years after release like what is the Index… then the brain computer interface might be a potential subject…

    He’s a bit talking about flying cars while cars are still ford model T.

    • Anonmon

      “Do a new headset”
      Yes.
      “That’s not LCD”
      Also yes. I’d accept full array local dimming of sufficient resolution, but HMD’s NEED proper blacks.

      “Low res”
      You know most computers can’t even drive 4k on a flat panel right? Even 3090’s will struggle with most VR games at 4K+ per eye. A little over 1440p per eye at the moment is fine for a standard headset.
      “Fresnel”
      Absolutely. Still use a Vive modded with GearVR lenses to this day because I will not do fresnel.

      “With the need for extra hardware for tracking”
      Yes, you need some sort of hardware external reference point(s) if you want actually solid tracking and hardware flexibility. Just because Facebook popularized the “”Good enough”” solution of inside-out (which only really works for strictly head & hands) doesn’t mean that should be imposed onto everything else.
      “At the cost of 1K even years after release.”
      Valve have said that parts have become even MORE expensive than when it originally released, but I’m in agreement with you there. For the tier of hardware the Index is, it really should be closer to $700 or $600 for a full kit by now.
      I’m optimistic for what Valve has cooking, but BCI is going to be a meme for a very long time, if not forever without invasive surgery, when what we need is a mid tier VR headset that does everything right.

      • ViRGiN

        > Still use a Vive modded with GearVR lenses to this day because I will not do fresnel.

        You sound like the guy who cares about the “BeSt” visual quality, while spending most of his VR time in absolute trainwreck of VR software. You probably also hate wireless streaming on Quest because of compression that you can’t even measure, yet you never spend VR time outside 3 apps, 2 of which are seated simulators.

        • Cless

          Oh no, somebody said something mildly negative about our overlord Facebook! Quick, call @disqus_RNE5aZmoRj:disqus to make it right!!

          • ViRGiN

            Day 169, I’m still getting triggered over Virgin comments.

          • Cless

            Excuse you, Its been longer than that!

        • Badgerslayer7

          You do realise there’s a wireless adapter for vive right? I’ve just borrowed my friends quest 2 and the quality is absolutely no where near as good as my gen1vive pro with the gear vr lens mod and wireless adapter.

          • ViRGiN

            You do realize it’s not wireless adapter? It’s tethered to a headset and battery. And the quality isn’t even comparable to native quality. Besides if you’re using Vive 1 in 2022, you’re doing it wrong. You’re a htc worshipper. That thing screen door is even worse than on quest 1.

      • VRFriend

        1440p is fine :) 2160p is fine, but could be better. I would love to see 3000×3000 per eye.

        • Cragheart

          1440p is very, very pixelated. I use 2160p displays for my PC and VR seems awfully fuzzy. But with my 5700 XT which I bought for $380, I can’t run anything more than 1440p. :-/

      • Cless

        I kind of agree with you. The screen resolution though… It can be way higher than that. Series 4000 of nvidia is coming in less than 1 year, and you don’t need to run panels at their top resolution to get the benefits of 0 screendoor effect that around 2K panels per eye give.
        1440p is what is today mid-tier, let’s hope their new headsets point towards something better than that.

        • Frank

          I feel squeamish about relying on the 40 series to be anything but hellish expensive and rarer than unicorn farts.

          Which is sad because you NEED a 3080 (or maybe a 2080 super) to run something like a Reverb G2 and even then you won’t max out the G2.

        • Cragheart

          Yeah, but how much will RTX 4080 really cost? $2000? How many people will spend that kind of money who are not miners?

          • Cless

            … how much does a 3080 cost now? lol
            But I get what you mean, yeah. But same as the new headsets that are coming next year for 2K to 2.5K… its just not for everybody.
            And if 4080s are done… 3080s second hand will go (slightly) down

      • Cragheart

        I think what we need first are much better PCs. Nvidia and AMD are slacking with GPU price/performance. CPUs are getting better, but slowly. We need 100 GHz CPUs and 1 Petaflops GPUs for VR. I hope they will be ready by the year 2030. HMDs resolution is low, but at 120+ fps current GPUs can’t drive higher res displays anyway. And energy efficiency is really poor with Ampere.

        • Cless

          I mean… we won’t be getting 100GHz with silicon, I can tell you that much already lol
          A lot of performance can be gained just by software alone. And the more we developers learn to make VR run better, the better older cards will work. That’s why my 1070 runs VR better now, than back in 2016, even if I’m using a Vive Pro instead of an OG Vive.

  • Mario Baldi

    I was happy to see that they didn’t drop the ball about VR, as more recent news speculate.
    But this article is about an interview that happened in May, so much could have been changed since then, especially considering the imminent launch of the steam deck.

  • Ad

    It’s kind of bizarre that something as dangerous and disruptive, to the point that it could end us long term (imagine write, copy and paste, hacking, half your self being non biological, things Gabe’s son has talked about), is something he really thinks will just be for games. Or at least that’s what motivates him. In reality just like VR, Zuck will snatch it away, and then destroy this world with it alongside Bezos and Musk.

    • ViRGiN

      Ah, your daily boner for anything Meta, with daily dosage of Steam-simping

  • Ad

    Valve suing ImagineOptics should have been reported on in RoadtoVR.

  • oomph2

    1. They should make nreal like birdbath type VR glasses
    2. They should make a android Tv type sat receiver with GPU & high RAM to run flagship games like skyrim , MMO etc

    • Cragheart

      Skyrim is 10 years old. It’s not a “flagship game”.

  • 3872Orcs

    Post a picture of Gabe and blurb something he and Valve said wherever and whenever, and you’re guaranteed a fiery comment section.

    Isn’t he more of a figurehead for Valve anyway? Does anything he says at this point have much relevance for us consumers or Valve?

    It’s equally frustrating and exciting dealing with Valve. I just hope they’re still in the VR game, even if SuckerBorg is dominating everything seemingly beyond hope. I want more VR games and hardware from Valve. They’re usually excellent at whatever they set their minds too.

  • ShaneMcGrath

    If they bring out a Quest 2 competitor with higher FOV, I’d buy one in a heartbeat.
    The current resolution is fine for a while as SOC’s and gpu’s need to get faster, But the FOV still sucks on all but the very high end.
    I would take no bump up in resolution in next gen but increase the FOV another 10 degrees or more.
    Still looking like you are seeing through a pair of swimming goggles isn’t exactly immersive in my opinion.

  • As far as I love BCI, I think they’re quite far away in the future to be disruptive

  • cookiezi

    Maybe invest in vac for a change. Or better yet thw whole cs scene. And dont even let me start on the state of valve sponsored tourneys

  • ViRGiN

    Quest 2 screen is a huge step up. Can only barely go better than that with existing hardware, but there is no point. It’s still software holding back the experience.