It seems some light has shone on Valve’s mysterious hardware project. The company has revealed the reason why they’re hiring hardware engineers and it’s for “wearable computing.”
This info has been revealed by none other than Valve’s own Michael Abrash in a recent blog post from the company itself.
What Abrash wants is “computing everywhere, all the time” — thus, “wearable computing. Yep, it’s like one of those things you see in sci-fi movies…except this is being worked on for real. While I admit I’m not a technical person, I think it’s best if Abrash explains what they’re up to in his own words.
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.
While Abrash is confident enough to share Valve’s vision, he admits that the project is still very much in the R&D phase…with nothing tangible to show to the public this early on.
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.
While almost every videogame/tech company is always working on new things all the time, it’s quite exciting to see someone actually admit and reveal what they’re planning on doing. Let’s wish them luck, shall we?
Oh, and this still doesn’t explain why Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Valve HQ! Unless these two are connected, then speculate away!