Valve talks wearable computers, actively working towards one

By on April 15, 2012

On the company’s new employee blog, Michael Abrash talks about his brand new project.

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Valve programmer Michael Abrash has published a lengthy post on the company’s new “blog” section, in which he talks about his role in the company, how he created his job 15 years before he got it, how Valve works without a hierarchy system, and about his new project: wearable computers.

It’s a fascinating read.

Speaking of wearable computers, Abrash believes that technology similar to Google Goggles will be a standard 20 years from now, with the evolving use of processing, power and size enabling such concepts.

We are hoping it's something like this. Only less green...and bulky...and unintuitive.

“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,” he wrote.

His wearable computer concept is still in the infant stages of development, so do not expect any flashy reveal during E3 or any time in the near future.

“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,” he added.

Last week, Valve posted a job listing for hardware engineers skilled enough “to help us invent whole new gaming experiences.” While it is unclear if the new job listing ties into Abrash’s project, his blog does end with an appeal to engineers and programmers to consider working for Valve.


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

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