The CEO of legendary gaming company Valve, Gabe Newell, says his company is working on a brain-computer interface (BCI) headset that could make video games more immersive than ever.
In an interview with New Zealand 1 News — the CEO has been spending time on the island nation during the pandemic — Newell argued that "eyes were created by this low-cost bidder that didn't care about failure rates and [return merchandise authorizations], and if it got broken there was no way to repair anything effectively, which totally makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, but is not at all reflective of consumer preferences."
"So the visual experience, the visual fidelity we'll be able to create — the real world will stop being the metric that we apply to the best possible visual fidelity," Newell said. "The real world will seem flat, colorless, blurry compared to the experiences you'll be able to create in people's brains."
Valve is collaborating with OpenBCI, a biosensor hardware company, on what Newell referred to as an "open source project so that everybody can have high-resolution [brain signal] read technologies built into headsets."
With such a headset, reality could get trippy.
"Where it gets weird is when who you are becomes editable through a [brain computer interface]," Newell told NZ1. "Our ability to create experiences in people's brains, that aren't mediated through their meat peripherals, will be better than is possible."
The technology could allow users to edit not only what they see, he said, but their feelings and emotions as well. For instance, Newell argued such a headset could lead to improved sleep. Further down the line, other unwanted feelings could be edited out or totally removed, a sci-fi age form of therapy.
In the end, Newell doesn't believe BCIs will be flooding the market over night — not the least because of security concerns.
"Nobody wants to say, 'Oh, remember Bob? Remember when Bob got hacked by the Russian malware? That sucked — is he still running naked through the forests?' or whatever," Newell told NZ1. "So yeah, people are going to have to have a lot of confidence that these are secure systems that don't have long-term health risks."
The emergence of a marketable device for the masses, however, is still many years out, even for Valve.
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