Valve caused a little chatter in the gaming news industry after announcing that they were seeking an electronics engineer with experiencing prototyping ARM and x86 hardware design, causing rumours of what the company had up its sleeves.
However Valve developer and well known programmer Michael Abrash has revealed exactly what the company has planned, a computing technology you can wear. Abrash has made it quite clear that we shouldn’t expect an actual product from Valve anytime soon if we are to even expect a product at all.
Although after Google’s announcement of their project Glass the wearable heads up display glasses technology Valve were making a bold move by stating that they’re undertaking R&D on a similar product, Abrash explained more saying: “By “wearable computing” I mean mobile computing where both computer-generated graphics and the real world are seamlessly overlaid in your view; there is no separate display that you hold in your hands (think Terminator vision). The underlying trend as we’ve gone from desktops through laptops and notebooks to tablets is one of having computing available in more places, more of the time.
The logical endpoint is computing everywhere, all the time — that is, wearable computing — and I have no doubt that 20 years from now that will be standard, probably through glasses or contacts, but for all I know through some kind of more direct neural connection.
And I’m pretty confident that platform shift will happen a lot sooner than 20 years — almost certainly within 10, but quite likely as little as 3-5, because the key areas — input, processing/power/size, and output — that need to evolve to enable wearable computing are shaping up nicely, although there’s a lot still to be figured out.”
Abrash went on to say : “To be clear, this is R&D – it doesn’t in any way involve a product at this point, and won’t for a long while, if ever – so please, no rumors about Steam glasses being announced at E3. It’s an initial investigation into a very interesting and promising space, and falls more under the heading of research than development. The Valve approach is to do experiments and see what we learn – failure is fine, just so long as we can identify failure quickly, learn from it, and move on – and then apply it to the next experiment. The process is very fast-moving and iterative, and we’re just at the start. How far and where the investigation goes depends on what we learn.”
We’re confident in saying that whatever Valve is working on it will be interesting to see, but who knows what happens in the companies R&D department. I wonder if they’ll use a Portal-esque style advertisement for their product when and if it launches.