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Valve Wanna Make You Sweat Til You Can't Sweat No More

They do something

We’re waiting for you, Valve. In the sweat chamber. Show us what your mad wearable computing tech can do, instead of all this teasing. Latest report is that they’ve come up with kit which can measure assorted bodily responses, including heart rate, facial expression, brain waves, eye movement, pupil dilation, body temperature and, indeed, sweatability. Based on how you appear to be feeling, the game will alter factors such as difficulty and intensity to suit.
Speaking to VentureBeat, Valve’s in-house psychology guy Mike Ambinder claimed that “One thing we are very interested in is the notion of biofeedback and how it can be applied to game design. There is potential on both sides of the equation, both for using physiological signals to quantify an emotional state while people are playing the game.”

They’ve had a working version of this in Left 4 Dead, wherein their sensors measured player’s physical state while attempting to kill 100 infected within four minutes. If they seemed agitated or excited, according to their sweat levels and other factors, the game would speed up and give them lest time to complete their micro-genocide within.

They’ve also got eye-tracking working in Portal 2 – I wonder if we’re in for a (heh) head-to-head battle between competing techs in that regard, what with Oculus Rift inbound, TrackIR already about and someone no doubt planning to do clever things with Google Glass. Those aren’t eye-trackers, of course, but I imagine they strive to achieve a similar effect with a fair bit more movement. Additionally, Valve’s tech can apparently independently respond to where the eyes are looking and what direction the head turns in.

Here’s Ambinder having a chat about all this stuff:

Is our dark future, then, sitting motionless in our chairs with a pair of Goggles clamped to our faces while our eyes and pores direct what we see and how we move? Blink to jump, make your forehead sticky to shoot, being a bowel movement to exit to deskop? By next June every single human being on the planet will look like those blobby people in Wall-E. MARK MY WORDS.

More seriously, the main challenge I see for wearable computing is the hassle of strapping assorted sensors and cameras to our bodies. Grabbing a quick half hour of gaming before dinner isn’t going to be quite so appealing if you have to perform a sort of Batman dress-up first. I’ll be very interested to see how all this stuff is actually packaged once it’s made public.

Valve’s tech will also be looking into our big brown eyes, presumably. If someone can overlay Gabe Newell’s face onto this singer, that would be great:

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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