‘I can't imagine working on something of more significance right now,’ says firm’s Alan Yates on importance of headsets such as the Vive

A third of Valve’s staff are working on VR – and it’s looking for more

Roughly a third of Valve’s workforce are now dedicated to virtual reality research and development, the company has revealed.

Alan Yates, who worked on the Lighthouse tracking system for the Vive headset, responded to a Reddit thread by highly praising the prospects for VR.

“Digitally mediated reality is one of those incredibly impactful technologies, short of human space flight or life sciences I can’t imagine working on something of more significance right now,” he said. 

“There are a number of teams around the planet doing great things in this new space, it is truly exciting. But we all owe a huge debt to those in academia and niche industries that kept the dream alive after the 90s VR implosion. People like Mark Bolas at USC where [Oculus founder] Palmer Lucky got his start and Jaron Lanier now at MSR who popularised the term Virtual Reality and has never stopped thinking about the future of digitally mediated reality.”

He then recalled his own start at Valve, and the subsequent boom in the number of devs committed to virtual reality as the technology begins to take off.

“I was super fortunate to start at Valve right around the time Michael Abrash had begun the AR/VR research team,” Yates said.

“It was a much smaller team then than it is now, it has since grown to encompass about a third of the company, but the key individuals that solved most of the really hard technological problems and facilitated this generation of consumer headsets are still here working on the next generation.”

Valve is estimated to have more than 300 employees, making the virtual reality workforce around 100 people.

As well as the Vive headset itself, Valve has released a number of VR titles for SteamVR, including The Lab and a compatibility update for Team Fortress 2

Yates reiterated Valve’s dedication to the growth of VR by adding: “We are always hiring.”

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