Fitness / Technology / Video Games

Wearable Computing, Real World Gaming

Are we already wearing Next-Gen Consoles?

While out on a jog, I was listening to IGN’s Game Scoop! Podcast: Episode 258. The Game Scoop team began talking about Valve’s desire to enter the video game hardware market. If you are not up to speed on the topic, a job listing on Valve’s website for Industrial Designer includes the following description:

Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked.”Valve.com

The Game Scoop team discusses the topic and eventually begin to throw around the idea of wearable computing. While the idea seems as if it is only in development, I would argue that we are already deep within the waters, only without a proper captain. With devices like the Nike+ FuelBand, the bodybugg, and every smart phone on the market, the majority of consumers are already wearing computers.

My proposition? Integrate.

As an example, Apple alone has the financial means and infrastructure to develop app data integration into iOS. With iPhone, one can track their mileage, keep a to-do list, wake themselves up, play video games, track calories, read books… the list goes on and on!

What Apple needs to do is take all of the data the iPhone generates and compile it into a singular app. Maybe change the un-adopted Game Center app and call it iStats. Allow iStats to show you the record amount of times you’ve been re-tweeted, display your Facebook or Instagram “like” record, keep track of your Nike+ Fuel points, your calories burned each day, the number of cities you’ve visited, the average time spent on phone calls and with whom, your highest game scores, the food you consume, the TV shows you watch, the groceries you buy, how many hours you’ve worked, how much money you’ve earned, the time you spend in your car, the to-dos you finish…

Apple could create a real-life MMO just from the sheer amount of data that could be collected. We could step away from our TVs and into the real world. We could compete with friends and family not only with who has the highest Angry Birds score but who ate the healthiest that day. Instead of landing 12 apps on your smart phone all tracking different data sets, they could all be integrated into a singular source. App and OS developers alike could build in achievement systems when certain conditions are met. They could even promote certain products by showing greyed out icons or stats that become unlocked when a certain third-party device is paired with the smartphone, much like Nike + iPod.

Maybe I see this innovation because the feeling of productivity is so much more rewarding than any video game experience I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s because I hate the feeling I get after playing through a 20+ hour video game only to wonder “why?” If we are able to harness the task related achievement system and competitive factor of video games and apply it to real life, we have then entered a new era of gaming that provides us with productivity. All that’s left is narrative which is inevitably filled in by one’s Facebook wall.

The fact is, we are living in a world of wearable computing and have been for the past 6+ years. The next step in this evolution is integration.

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Kyle Starr is the writer of TheStarrList.com and The State of Gaming. Find Kyle on Twitter at @_kylestarr.

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