Valve reveals gaming headset, teases Big Picture

Gaming is big business says Valve, as the developer takes the time to show off its brand new gaming headset and TV-based Big Picture. Rather than inviting the games media masses who have been clamouring for any details on the Seattle company’s “wearable computing” initiative, Gabe Newell and his team instead went right to the top, with an in-depth interview published in The New York Times.

Gordon Stoll demonstrates Valve's gaming headset

Image via The New York Times

That’s Gordon Stoll from Valve, modelling a prototype of the stylish new headset the studio’s been working on. The Times compares it to Google‘s Project Glass, and describes the hardware as “a boxy set of goggles that looks like a 22nd-century version of a View Master”. The plan? To “let players lose themselves inside a virtual reality and, eventually, blend games with their views of the physical world.”

Realistically speaking, Michael Abrash, the man leading the headset project, says that “credible augmented reality games” (with matching glasses) are up to five years away. Right now, developers are plagued with problems when it comes to attaching virtual items to physical ones (like an in-game billboard stuck to a real-world wall). If you can’t wait that long, virtual reality glasses could be on the market much sooner.

While Valve intends to be a major part of this shift, The Times reports it doesn’t want to be the only player, going so far as to “share its designs freely” among other companies, allowing them to make glasses themselves.

Abrash says:

Gabe [Newell] has a saying, which is, ‘We will do what we need to do.’ We don’t particularly want to be a company that makes hardware in large quantities. It’s not what we do.

Valve's Big Picture

Valve’s Big Picture

As one part of the company focusses on these smaller, head-mounted screens, another team within Valve is working on a much bigger one, the new Big Picture system. It is, essentially, a way of loading up your Steam games on new screens – like your television – meaning you can play PC games from the comfort of your lounge room.

Heading to the living room—or anywhere there’s a big screen—is Steam’s soon-to-be-released big-picture mode, offering simple, easy-to-read navigation designed specifically for TV. With full controller support, big-picture mode will let gamers kick back and enjoy their favorite games on the biggest screen in the house.

We still haven’t heard too much about what’s going on there, but Big Picture is teasing a big reveal in the next week or so – we’re keeping our eyes peeled, and you probably should too.

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