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Valve working on mobile hardware, biometric controllers

Valve's Gabe Newell talks about installing Windows on the Steam Box, their mobile Steam Box ambitions, and how they will use biometrics in new controllers.


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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From The Chatty

  • reply
    January 8, 2013 4:10 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Valve working on mobile hardware, biometric controllers.

    Valve's Gabe Newell talks about installing Windows on the Steam Box, their mobile Steam Box ambitions, and how they will use biometrics in new controllers.

    • reply
      January 8, 2013 5:05 PM

      The whole idea of this seems kind of weird. It says in the article "you can do anything on it! You can just fire up a web browser and use Netflix!"

      But of course you can, because it's nothing more than a computer. How is this thing any different than literally any other computer in the entire world that has an HDMI port (meaning all of them nowadays)

      • reply
        January 9, 2013 1:16 AM

        The worse part is that the product is not ready, *almost* nothing is shown. They don't have a presentation yet they allow other manufacturers to present crappy products using it.
        Well it's not new that they suck at traditional marketing. Remember the HL² to be released next month debacle and the Steam launch.
        Thanksfully they polish things until they get it right but i'm afraid it doesn't work like that in the hardware field.

      • reply
        January 9, 2013 10:58 AM

        The point is to get the open platform of PC games as accessible as consoles. To a current PC gamer it sounds weird to strip all the hardware down into a HTPC form factor and claim it's something new, but it IS new. It's taking typical PC hardware and making it accessible to the people who aren't interested in things like knowing all the hardware specs of the gaming hardware they're buying - which is pretty much ALL console gamers (gross generalization, I know).

    • reply
      January 8, 2013 5:12 PM

      I'm starting to think Valve is trying to do to much.

      If they ever go bankrupt so help me I'll go postal.......that is, after I cry about losing 400+ games :(

      • reply
        January 8, 2013 5:15 PM

        They have severe money hats and they aren't public, so their idea of success is different from the usual, 'We have to make billions or everything is lost!" company operation.

      • reply
        January 8, 2013 5:17 PM

        That's not how they operate. And you should know by now this is something they know is a gamble and wouldn't put their entire company on the line for it.

        • reply
          January 8, 2013 5:41 PM

          There is no way Gabe would put his snacks on the line.

          • reply
            January 8, 2013 7:47 PM

            Great. Now you've delayed HL3 even more.