Valve, one of the largest players in digital distribution of games, has revealed more details about its hardware plans and public tests of its Big Picture technology. We recently reported that Valve was considering trying its hand at making computer or gaming hardware, and the company has now revealed, in an interview with The New York Times, its interest in developing gaming headsets. The company is also planning to conduct a public test of Big Picture, which allows you to play Steam games on large displays such as a television set. The test is expected to take place today.
The New York Times states that Gordon Stoll of Valve was testing an NVIS gaming headset that is “a boxy set of goggles that looks like a 22nd-century version of View-Master”. The headsets, which more or less work like Google’s Project Glass, are part of a wearable computing project headed by Michael Abrash.
Abrash is quoted as saying that such gaming headsets could be three to five years away, but virtual reality glasses could be here much sooner. Valve has not decided whether it’ll build the glasses itself.
Gordon Stoll of Valve testing an NVIS gaming headset.
The report reveals that Valve will face greater technical challenges compared with Project Glass. “While Google’s glasses will display texts and video conferences, Valve has greater technical challenges to overcome with augmented-reality games. It has to figure out how to keep stable an image of a virtual object (say, a billboard) that is meant to be attached to a real-world object (the side of a building) while a player moves around. Otherwise, the illusion would be shattered,” it reads.
Valve recently stated in a job listing for the post of an industrial designer stated that it is “jumping in” the computer hardware business. The listing adds that Valve is “frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space” and sees “a real void in the marketplace.” Valve also seems to think that opportunities to create compelling user experiences are “being overlooked”.
“Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked,” the post reads.
The post doesn’t include information about any specific computer hardware Valve may be considering, but it does mention that basic input peripherals such as the keyboard and mouse “haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years.”
The company is not planning to build its own console either. Valve's Marketing Director Doug Lombardi confirmed with Kotaku earlier this year that Valve was a long way from actually making a console. He didn’t deny, however, that Valve wouldn’t make its own hardware sometime in the future.