Hitting many news sites this morning was word that Valve's hiring hardware designers now in order to "invent whole new gaming experiences" and to create hardware to enhance the gaming experience. It turns out that it's in part related to wearable computing.
An hour ago I got an email from one of the developers from Valve currently working on their Linux client with a subject of "Check this out..." and a link to a page that is currently 403'ing (forbidden access). That link, blogs.valvesoftware.com is still 403'ing on most page loads at the moment. Fortunately, I did get one successful page load with the content. The first blog post by Valve is a post by Mike Abrash entitled "Ramblings in Valve Time."
Abrash wrote about his career and how he wound up at Valve, how Valve is a very open and flat-structured organization internally, and all-around sounds like a great place. He then went on to mention how his current project is focusing upon wearable computing and interfaces. "After a couple of discussions like that, I realized that he was saying was that I should think about whether that was really the most valuable thing I could be doing – there were plenty of people who were skilled at optimizing the Source engine already working on Portal 2, so it would be more useful to think about what high-impact things I could do that no one else was doing. That, and conversations with various people around the company, kicked me into a different mode of thought, which eventually led me to a surprising place: wearable computing."
Of course, hardware is only as useful as the software running on it, and there’s a vast web of intertwined issues and questions to be resolved about how the combined hardware-software system might work. What does a wearable UI look like, and how does it interact with wearable input? How does the computer know where you are and what you’re looking at? When the human visual system sees two superimposed views, one real and one virtual, what will it accept and what will it reject? To what extent is augmented reality useful – and if it’s useful, to what extent is it affordably implementable in the near future? What hardware advances are needed to enable the software? And much, much more – there are deep, worthy challenges everywhere you look (and I hope to be posting about some of them soon); in fact, what it reminds me of, but on a larger scale, is Quake, where we had to figure out 3D graphics, client-server Internet networking, file formats, pretty much everything from scratch. Indeed, I think this has the potential to be, like Quake, a technological inflection point after which everything has changed.
In fact, this technology is potentially a big step in the direction of Snow Crash. What goes around comes around: 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.
The post then goes on to mention how Valve is hiring big time and how the kind of people they like to see at the company.
Linux isn't mentioned in this inaugural blog post. However, in less than two weeks I will be out at Valve's offices in Bellevue to learn more about their Linux Steam/Source work. Barring any NDAs or other restrictions, I'll hopefully be able to share some great Linux Valve news that week.