The internet has been abuzz lately with rumors that Valve, the creators of the popular PC gaming platform Steam and developers of the acclaimed Half-Life 2, have been developing a video game console. As crowded as the console market may be, bringing the Steam experience into the living room is an interesting idea that could have given the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and upcoming Wii U a run for their money. Well, the rumors were partly true. Valve has been in the research and development phase for a project to create new hardware, however it is not a video game console.
In a lengthy post on the Valve Blog, technical developer Michael Abrash revealed that the new hardware is actually going to be a “wearable computer” of sorts. The thought brings to mind images from sci-fi movies where computers are programmed into watches and glasses, which may not be far from the truth according to Abrash. “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)” he wrote in his blog post, leaving ample room for interpretations on how this can be implemented. Incorporating computer technology into glasses seems most likely.
Abrash goes further to explain how technology has progressed to a point where the computers are faster, smaller and more portable, as evidenced by the boom in mobile computing, laptops and tablets. Abrash elaborates by saying “The logical endpoint is computing everywhere, all the time – that is, wearale computing – and I have no doubt that 20 years from now that will be the standard, probably through glasses or contacts, but for all I know through some kind of more direct neural connection.” Regarding the time frame, Abrash goes further to explain how the platform shift is likely to happen sooner rather than later, and the 20 years he mentioned could easily be 3 to 5 years given how fast computer technology is progressing, especially in terms of power and size. If this sounds like the thing of sci-fi fantasy rather than viable technology, think back to ten years ago before smartphones and tablets entered the market. Technology is constantly expanding and evolving and, while there is a lot to be figured out, wearable computers could be the next wave.
Abrash closes by saying that this is not confirmed, rather a project that is currently being explored. The idea of wearable computing has been kicked around since Abrash’s days at Microsoft in the early 90’s, so it is being revisited now at a point where the advances in technology may allow for it. What becomes of this is anyone’s guess, but the bad news for gamers is that this hardware project is not for a video game console as we originally speculated.