Enlarge / The distant future. THE DISTANT FUTURE!

SAN FRANCISCO—For about a year now, Valve's SteamVR initiative has been synonymous, on the hardware side, with the HTC Vive headset and its included hand-tracking controllers. But unlike the proprietary, self-made hardware of Oculus, PlayStation VR, and the like, SteamVR provides a hardware and API standard that any manufacturer can adhere to with their own headset.

LG recently announced that it was partnering with Valve to become the first company since HTC to join the SteamVR hardware bullpen. At the Game Developers Conference this week, the Korean electronics giant showed off an early prototype headset that already shows some key improvements over the familiar Vive.

The most noticeable difference is apparent as soon as the LG headset slides over your head. The display itself is mounted on an adjustable rigid headband that wraps around the back of your skull and balances itself on the top of your forehead, much like the extremely comfortable PlayStation VR. This distributes the headset's weight much more comfortably than the small, semi-elastic fabric strap on the Vive (and the display housing itself seems much less bulky than the Vive, from a volume perspective). It also lets the display itself hover slightly in front of your face, avoiding the ski goggle-like nasal pressure and air-choking seal around the eyes of headsets like the Vive and Oculus Rift.

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