Gabe Newell of Valve speaks of futuristic Wearable Computers

Feb 20, 2012
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Gabe Newell of Valve speaks of futuristic Wearable Computers

This week at the games portal the world knows best as a comic, Penny Arcade, Valve's own Gabe Newell spoke on many things in an interview, perhaps most interestingly of all on experiments he's been doing with wearable computers. It's not that long ago, he noted, that what was called the "wearable computer" was a growing industry, or at least a possibility for a market sometime in the future. Since those days, whenever those days may have been, law suits were filed for exploding computer body suits, nothing solid ended up really coming together during the popularity wave of the wearable computer, and they all but fizzled out - but they still exist, he insists, and they're about to be better than they ever were before.

In the interview there was of course lots of chatter on games and the future of the Valve system itself and how it functions, but in a question regarding "inputs or outputs that you're experimenting with," Newell bore fruit. The wearable computer solutions Newell speaks of are "look like the old wearable computing solutions, the difference being that they’re way higher resolution, way lighter weight, [and] much better battery life." Interestingly enough, he notes that biofeedback and biometrics are the main subject of these devices, whatever they may end up being, while virtual reality in the sense that you're fully immersed visually did not specifically come up.

Perhaps is the fact that we're outside of the game, no matter how much of it we're experiencing, that keeps us interested in playing. As Gabe notes, it's not even a matter of creating something that's missing in the industry today:

"It’s not a question of whether or not this is going to be useful for customers, whether or not it’s going to be useful for content developers, you know, it’s figuring out the best way we can get these into people’s hands." - Newell

Will we see glasses comparable to what we've seen as recently as CES 2012? Perhaps body suits that bring pressure to the chest, smells to the nose, and Avatar-like abilities to the game? Or maybe gigantic screens is all we're speaking about instead:

"Well it’s exciting when you, you know, some of the prototypes that I’ve seen are basically the equivalent of a hundred inch display with considerably lower power requirements than a typical smartphone display, so if you just look at it straight up as a presentation technology that’s pretty interesting. It seems like some of the hard engineering problems are getting solved and a hundred inch display is way better than a ten inch display. The other thing that’s interesting is that a lot of these systems tend to allow you to overlap on a per-pixel basis the sort of real world with the virtual world." - Newell

We'll stick with Newell over the next few months to see if he's really on to something here. With Valve doing more business than ever before, we can't wait to see what turns up in their labs, even if they only play a small part in the manufacturing of hardware.

[via Penny Arcade]


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