Confirming the description of a recent job listing, Valve has announced on the Valve blog that the company is currently in the R&D stage of developing hardware but it’s not the “Steam Box” console that has been rumored over the last few months.
Tech developer Michael Abrash wrote on the blog that the Valve is allowing him to work on a project that was turned down by Microsoft back in 1994, when he worked for the company. The project involved “wearable computing” hardware and basically would give users a “mobile computing” device that would overlay “computer-generated graphics” onto your real world view, similar to “Terminator vision”.
“…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.”
“…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 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.”
The idea that Valve is working on “wearable computer” tech should come as no surprise, seeing as Gabe Newell specifically mentioned it back in February. What is surprising is that Valve would be so forthcoming as to the specifics of the project that they are working on.
At any rate, it sounds like the next update on their hardware R&D is a long way off, so until then don’t put much stock into any rumors that may come up claiming that Valve is set to announce something in this area any time soon.