Valve’s Abrash investigates wearable computing

14 Apr 2012  by   Paul Younger
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There’s been a lot of discussion this week about Valve’s recent job posting for hardware engineeers but we are none the wiser as to what they are up to. Perhaps Valve’s Michael Abrash could be onto something, although the chances of his latest blog update and any Valve hardware being related are slim.
In his Valve blog update, Abrash, who has prevously worked at id and Microsoft,  discusses what he is currently working on at Valve, and it’s a little out of the ordinary. It’s ‘wearable computing’. Abrash explains:
“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.”
So as you can see, this is a project that Atbrash has undertaken himself at Valve where the teams are often left to come up with new projects and just crack on with them without any managerial intervention. 
To avoid any rumours surfacing, Abrash explains the Valve process when it comes to researching new projects.
“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 full blog post is worth reading if you want to know more about Abrash and how Valve operate, which is probably quite different to what most of us are used to.

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