Valve working on mobile hardware, biometric controllers

by Andrew Yoon, Jan 08, 2013 4:10pm PST
Related Topics – Steam, Valve, Linux

Finally, Valve has confirmed its intentions to make hardware. The long-rumored "Steam Box" is pretty much as expected: a Linux-powered PC that's meant to easily connect to TVs and play games. And while it may be positioned as a Linux gaming device, Valve promises that the Steam Box will be able to run Windows as well. "This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination," Valve's Gabe Newell said. "If you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard."

You'll be able to do much more than just play games on it too, of course. Crucially, the Steam Box will run Netflix. "You can fire up a web browser, you can do whatever you want."

Of course, Valve has hardware ambitions that go well beyond making custom PCs. Speaking at length to The Verge, Newell also described his vision for mobile. "So this [Steam Box] is called 'Bigfoot' internally, and we also have 'Littlefoot,'" Newell explained. "[Littlefoot] says 'what do we need to do to extend this to the mobile space?' Our approach will be pretty similar. "

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to mobile gaming is input, something Valve may address whenever its mobile ambitions come to fruition. "We also think there’s a lot that needs to be done in the tablet and mobile space to improve input for games."

In fact, Newell believes much more can be done in gaming control altogether, and he details much of the company's curious biometric plans. "We also think that a controller that has higher precision and lower latency is another interesting thing to have," he said. "I think you’ll see controllers coming from us that use a lot of biometric data… Biometrics on the other hand is essentially adding more communication bandwidth between the game and the person playing it, especially in ways the player isn’t necessarily conscious of. Biometrics gives us more visibility."

Nintendo clearly saw potential in biometric gaming when it announced the Vitality Sensor years ago, a long-delayed project that has since humbled the Japanese gaming giant. Will Valve be able to crack that nut?




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