According to a recent post by Valve developer Michael Abrash, the company is hiring hardware engineers to work on “wearable computing”, a significant leap from the Steam Box many people were expecting. Inspired by Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash, Abrash wants to shrink down computing to the point where you can have one on you at all times.
Abrash explained: “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.”
Abrash was quick to let people know that the project is still in the very early R&D phases, with nothing to be shown to the public at this time.
“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 rumours 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,” Abrash stated.