Gabe Newell of Valve on Game Development and Perceptual Computing

Recently, Valve’s Gabe Newell (steampowered.com) sat down with the Intel video team to talk about his impressions of perceptual computing, game development, and how one technology (Miracast) is set to change the gaming user experience as we know it.

Different screens for different folks

Most people these days have several different screens in their house: laptops, desktops, tablets, television sets, etc. Newell mentions that it would be nice to take advantage of screens in all of these different places, and references Miracast as a good solution to distribute gaming opportunities and computing access:

“Miracast™ is a groundbreaking solution for seamlessly displaying video between devices, without cables or a network connection.  Users can do things like view pictures from a smartphone on a big screen television, share a laptop screen with the conference room projector in real-time, and watch live programs from a home cable box on a tablet.” – Wi-fi.org, “Wi-Fi Certified Miracast

“With the support of game-makers and device manufacturers, even the most complex and addicting games have the potential to become social events, whether its friends each using their own devices in one person’s living room or strangers engaging in interactive games from different parts of the world. If a game-maker knew that the user had a two-screen display — a tablet mirrored to a TV, for instance — it could customize a popular game with extra goodies, such as alternative views or detailed maps that provide a leg-up over opponents.” – Broadcom.com, “A Miracast-Enabled Future: Next-Gen “Screencasting” Brings Your Content to Life”

Here’s a great demo of how this technology works:

Newell notes that Miracast has the potential to “improve value proposition and usability”. Users can participate in great gaming experiences with each other all over their home, but they can also get on the Internet, watch movies or listen to music on streaming services, and all of this in a collaborative fashion with other users. This is a great solution for people who are looking for a more integrated experience.

Perceptual computing=game development future

In the second half of the video, Newell talks about the possibilities of perceptual computing as related to game development. PCs and form factors have made fantastic improvements in the last few years, which makes the work of a software developer ever more challenging as they race to keep up with new technology and expected experiences.

That’s where perceptual computing comes in. Perceptual computing offers great opportunities for different forms of input that create entirely new experiences in gaming. New kinds of input – like measured heart rate, perceived emotional state, contextual environmental cues, hand and eye movements, etc. – are where new gaming experiences are going.

Intel has a very deep interest in perceptual computing; in fact, a large investment in this field was just recently announced at Computex.  Intel announced that Intel Capital will be creating a $100 million Intel Capital Experiences and Perceptual Computing Fund over the next two to three years in order to support developments in this rapidly moving field:

"Devices with human-like senses – the ability to see, hear and feel much like people do – has long been a subject of science fiction but is now within reach given recent innovations in compute power and camera technology," said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president. "This new fund will invest in start-ups and companies enabling these experiences, helping them with the business development support, global business network and technology expertise needed to scale for worldwide use."

The main objective in perceptual computing is the user experience, according to Newell. Developers want to create a compelling, engaging experience for their users, and perceptual computing can provide a funnel to do that.

Newell points out that one of the most useful tools for developers out there is the Intel Perceptual Computing SDK, which coders can use to create new and exciting experiences for their users.  To support this kit, Intel also made available the Creative* Interactive Gesture Camera. This innovative SDK gives developers the ability to fully integrate innovative facial and voice recognition, gesture controls, and alternative reality features into imaginative applications.  It is absolutely free and can be downloaded at intel.com/software/perceptual.

The future of development

If you’re a developer, what do you think of Newell’s talk? Do you agree with him on where he believes game development is headed, or do you have a different opinion? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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