Last week, rumours surrounding a Valve video game console hit overdrive thanks to a job posting for a hardware engineer on its official website.
The job listing invited applicants to "invent whole new gaming experiences," which lead many to believe that a new console was on the horizon, despite Valve publically debunking the rumour weeks earlier.
Well, it turns our we can put the 'Steam Box' rumours to rest for the time being. Instead, the company is working on 'wearable computing' technology inspired by Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel Snow Crash.
Valve developer Michael Abrash, who is in charge of the R&D project, explained the new venture in an official blog post:
"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," explains Abrash.
"...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)."
As Abrash points out, the technology is very similar to Snow Crash's concept of the Metaverse.
"I wouldn’t be at Valve doing this – in fact, Valve itself might not be here – if it weren’t for Snow Crash diverting my career to Id in the first place," he claims.
Despite the blunders of Nintendo's Virtual Boy, we're intrigued by the concept of a wearable gaming interface. With Google already exploring similar technology, and Kinect paving the way for controller-free gaming, the concept doesn't seem out of the realm of possibilty.
Abrash says he expects the shift towards a wearable computing platform to occur within the next ten years, possibly three years from now.
"The key areas – input, processing/power/size, and output – that need to evolve to enable wearable computing are shaping up nicely," Abrash explains.
That said, there is still a lot of groundwork that needs to be worked out; particularly how a combined hardware/software system works. "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," Abrash urges.
You can read Michael Abrash's full blog post here.