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Gabe Newell: Valve is excited about wearable computers, open hardware


Finally, we have a concrete reason for the eternal delay of Half-Life 2 Episode 3: Valve head Gabe Newell is more interested in wearable computing. OK, that's not directly why Valve hasn't announced a new Half-Life title, but wearable computing and hardware development are definitely something Valve is interested in, Newell told Penny Arcade Report.

Wearable computers -- think Star Trek communication badges, wrist-bound touchscreens or SixthSense -- are seeing a resurgence, and Valve is doing its own research into how they might function as gaming devices. Wearable computers now are "way higher resolution, way lighter weight, much better battery life," and Valve is doing its own research into this technology through biometrics, and is excited to see where it goes, Newell said.

"So we're thinking of trying to figure out how to do the equivalent of the [Team Fortress] incremental approach in software design and try to figure out how would you get something similar to that in the hardware space as well," he said. If Valve were to produce hardware, it would be something easy to iterate so customers don't have to buy 10 million devices, Newell said. Of course, that's if.

"Well, if we have to sell hardware we will," Newell said. "We have no reason to believe we're any good at it; it's more we think that we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that's what we'll do."

No company is safe from irrelevance, as far as Newell sees it, and even Microsoft and Sony can suffer the same fate as Atari and Commodore if they continue to create closed systems and don't innovate. "As soon as Valve stops doing interesting, innovative work we're gonna be left behind," Newell stated, unfortunately missing the "left for dead" pun opportunity.

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