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Valve's secret hardware project is "wearable computing"

Valve is hiring engineers to bring science fiction closer to science fact

A recent blog post by Valve developer Michael Abrash has revealed why Valve is hiring hardware engineers: wearable computing. The project is reaching much farther than the rumors of the SteamBox home console. Inspired by Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, Abrash has taken it upon himself to try to shrink computers down to a point where you can have one on you at all times.

"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 wrote.

He also makes it clear that Valve's secret project is still in the early R&D phases, with nothing concrete to show to the public at this time.

"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,"Abrash explained.

Could this be why Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Valve today? To see the next step in computing according to Valve?

The post is much larger than just the project reveal; it gives us a look into what Abrash has been doing and how Valve works as a whole. It's worth a read.

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Latest comments (12)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
I'm confused... Abrash is outgoing about a product at Valve. This isn't right... Valve are known for being hush-hush. I think it's a HL3 conspiracy, this wearable computer thing. :p

Seriously though, this sounds very interesting.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 14th April 2012 9:50am

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Frederic Eichinger Web Developer 4 years ago
I think it's a HL3 conspiracy, this wearable computer thing. :p
ARG! Definitely an ARG!
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Jose Martin Entrepreneur & Financing - Media / Tech / Interactive Entertainment 4 years ago
Sure Valve, take on another project, first you obviously devoted 95% of staff to running Steam and making Team Fortress 2 updates, now this... anything to distract you from actually making good games...lol... you totally screwed all of us out of HL2: Episode 3 and its only been over 7 years since Half-life 2...no rush, I just hope I'm still alive when a new Half-Life game is finally released.

Onto this story - Maybe,something along the lines of what Google is doing - those VR style glasses that they showcased in that promo video -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4

I'll reserve judgement until we know more, it really has to be something ultra slick, with smartphones getting closer to PCs all the time and tablets already taking the spot of "portable enough" computers, I can't imagine anyone wearing something on their wrist or anything clunky, has to be something like the Google Glasses I think...we'll see.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jose Martin on 14th April 2012 11:41am

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Show all comments (12)
"...wearable computing..."

Assuming the Google/Android Vision thing is real, I think Google got there first.

This just confuses me though: does it have anything to do with Steam at all? Or is it just a sign that Steam/Valve is making far too much money, and need something crazy to spend it all on...
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
This just confuses me though: does it have anything to do with Steam at all? Or is it just a sign that Steam/Valve is making far too much money, and need something crazy to spend it all on...
A little from column A, a little from column B... :D

Reading interviews with Gabe, it's fairly clear that Valve believe that anything that gives a better experience for the gamer is relevant to them, whether it's through Steam, or their specific gaming development (HL3/L4D/Portal). So, whilst there may not be a specific end-goal in terms of what the gamer/consumer can do with it, there will be the glimmer here of something that could improve interactive entertainment.

Thinking out loud, I wouldn't be surprised if this was something to do with helping people with disabilities enjoy games more. That would sync with his past comments about areas which other companies ignore, and, possibly, biometrics. But that's just random thinking.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 14th April 2012 5:04pm

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West Clendinning Senior/Lead Artist, Rovio Entertainment4 years ago
wearable computing? silly then, silly now.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbK-Bo3k9KQ
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 4 years ago
Wearable computing. God help us.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Just noticed...

No-one's done a Hat joke? I'm shocked, shocked I say.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Meh, they're making Companion Cubes, that's all...
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Brian Smith Artist 4 years ago
I'm surprised no-one has announced fitting hardware into pets these days. They're mobile and a medium sized dog could easily house a number of drive bays etc. Smaller setups may only need a gerbil, mouse or hamster. They would be fitted with good wifi and then the user need only access them through glasses or whatever. I can see it now.... The Doberman L3-3000, 20 cores, 15gig mem, 2 additional drive bays and no need for additional security options, answers to the name of Sweetpea.
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Paul Gheran Scrum Master 4 years ago
Can't wait to see the demo of the Steam glasses at E3!!
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Stefano Ronchi Indie Game Developer 4 years ago
Sorry for sounding dumb, but isn't the raspberry pi pretty much that? It's hardly technology of the future, unless they're talking about something that size which lets you play ps2+ type games, now that I'd be interested in.

Or companion cubes, granted.

Or as already stated, half life stuff. You know, the game which made you famous Valve. No pressure.
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