"For years Valve has been all about writing software that provides great gameplay experiences. Now we're developing hardware to enhance those experiences, and you can be a key part of making that happen."
To me, that doesn't sound anything like what a console gives someone. A console doesn't enhance gameplay experiences, it merely allows games to be played. What it does sound like, however, is peripheral development. While Valve isn't exactly known for their gimmicks and add-ons, they have been toying around with the idea for years, and this just might be what they're making...
The Heart (And Everything Else) Monitor
Remember way back to a few E3's ago when Nintendo announced the Vitality Sensor? It never came out of course, but Nintendo also wasn't the only company working on one. This is where Valve steps in with their biometric reader. Not only does it monitor your heart rate, it also keeps track of how much you're sweating and the electric conductivity of your skin. Why would it need to do all of these things?
Hi. I'm Gabe Newell and I'm one step closer to smelling your fear.
To see how you're feeling as you play, of course. If the game knows your heart is racing, then it might slow down the oncoming zombie attack to give you a second to rest, or send the information to your teammate so they know you might need help, even if that help is just words of assurance. There are plenty of different things it could do, but nothing absolutely definitive seeing as the technology hasn't really been put into games yet.
Eye Tracking Software
But wait, there's more! Not only does Valve want to know how you're feeling, they also want to know what you're looking at. How could they possibly do this? Well, the eye tracking technology Valve may or may not currently be working on is certainly a good start towards that crazy goal of knowing everything about your state of mind.
It is very natural and fluid. And insanely painful.
The way it works is simple...in a way. A camera tracks where your eyes are looking and translates those movements onto the screen in the place of a traditional computer mouse. It sounds weird, but the videos posted online of Valve demonstrating their work in progress actually makes it look like a very viable gaming option.
While eye tracking may seem like something more useful towards the disabled gamer by removing the need of one of your hands, the videos alone show a product that is just as accurate as a mouse, possibly even more so. While there are probably still plenty of technical problems with the product, like lighting and camera angle conditions, it just might be Valve's new project.
In a recent blog posting from Valve employee Michael Abrash, it was stated that he was looking into some form of wearable computer. Possibly like those Google Glasses we've all been hearing about. However, according to Michael Abrash himself, that sort of thing is still extremely far off. But the things mentioned in this article were being tested nearly two years ago.
The original article discussing them was posted in late 2010 and the videos detailing Valve's progress were posted just a short time later. So two years ago Valve had a working test model, and now in 2012, they're hiring someone to enhance the gaming experience with a new piece of hardware. Put two and two together and it looks like Valve has a pretty crazy future ahead of it...
While all of this stuff may seem crazy, I've seen it work. It is in the realm of possibility. But could it really be what Valve is working on? Why not share your opinions and concerns in the comments below? As always, thanks for reading!
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