Attack of the Fanboy

Valve Wants to Develop Some Fancy Wearable Computers

by William Schwartz


Valve recently started up their own blog, written by technical guru Michael Abrash, and their first post goes into Abrash’s history in the industry, his instrumental role in helping Valve get started and ultimately end up working there, and the idea of “wearable computers.”

“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).”

Or, you could think of Google’s own Project Glass. Valve has been expressing interest in the idea of creating hardware that could be useful for their audience and the idea of augmented reality seems to be one of their first big projects. Now, that doesn’t mean anything is actually being made, per se. Everything is currently in the research part of Research & Development.

“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.”

Think about it; using something along the lines of Google’s Project Glass, but interact with software on your computer, like let’s say… a video game perhaps? Sorry Wii U, your tablet idea is cool and all, but I’d rather use an interface that involves eye tracking instead of that pesky touch screen. Okay, so I maybe jumping the gun here. Not much is really known about how this project would interact with software or the world around it, besides the technology may not even be fully matured enough yet.

“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.”

Want to know the best part about this (assuming you’re technically savvy enough)? Michael Abrash is taking resumes:

“If you’re excited at the idea of diving into wearable computing, and you’re the right sort of person, then you’re why I wrote this post. We want you here – and you should want to be here; read back over this post and see if that isn’t so. Shoot me an e-mail, and we’ll go from there.”

If you want the opportunity to work at Valve and have enough technical experience to develop some fancy schmancy space age gadgets (or at least the software for it, since they aren’t really developing the hardware for it at this point), then I’d suggest you take him up on his offer and ‘shoot’ him an e-mail, he “can’t wait to talk to you.” Feel free to read the rest of his lengthy blog post, it is a worthy read. It goes into what working at Valve is actually like (a company with no official management and complete creative freedom?!) and Abrash’s work behind the development of Quake. He makes it pretty clear that nothing like this is going to be unveiled at E3, so let the theories about what Valve’s private booth at the expo will showcase continue. It’s probably software related, but remember to be realistic. Valve has other projects besides Half Life and Left 4 Dead. You ever heard of SOB?

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