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Hidden talents: HTC Vive will gain “real, new functionality” after release via firmware updates, says Valve developer

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There’s more to the HTC Vive than meets the eye – or the specs sheet – according to Valve developer Jeremy Selan. Speaking on the RoadToVR podcast, Selan described the untapped potential of the headset and promised significant new additions to functionality via firmware updates throughout its lifespan.

Looking for something to use that Vive with right now? Our best VR games guide will steer you in the right direction.

It’s a similar approach to the one Valve took with the Steam controller, Selan points out:

“The traditional model for hardware companies is that you develop a product, perfect it prior to release, and then put it out there and it’s a little bit more of a static, unchanging target.

“I think we’re really excited about Valve taking a similar approach with hardware as we do with software. Your Steam client updates all the time, it’s really convenient for you to push out software updates for lots of games [and] we’ve taken that same approach with the hardware perspective as well.

“The Steam controller, since its release, has had a bunch of meaningful and interesting updates going out and that’s our hope to take a similar step with the HTC Vive, as well as the general Steam VR ecosystem.”

What Selan is saying, then, is that the salad days of the Vive lie in the future, as its developers become better acquiainted with its capabilities and write firmware updates that improve and even add new features.

“We don’t want to talk specifics right now, Selan tells RoadToVR, “because we have a lot ideas, but internal to the product and the way it’s designed, a lot of stuff can be changed as software and firmware updates.

“So real, new functionality people already have in their hands. We’ll be able to push things out and give them new and exciting things. Tt remains to be seen how many of those we’ll get to in the near term, but we’re super excited about that approach and think it’s a really good long term way to do hardware support in the future.”

Nobody thought Oculus Rift and HTC Vive were the end point for VR, but the idea that the hardware itself has apparently dormant functionality waiting to be awakened by future software updates is a new spin on the platform’s progression. Will Oculus Rift mature in the same way? Facebook didn’t suggest such a plan specifically when Mark Zuckerberg laid out the company’s 10-year roadmap for VR recently, but you’d imagine if it’s possible on one device, it’s possible that it’s possible on the other. Quite.

You can read more of Selan’s insights in the full podcast over at RoadToVR.