Valve, the development studio behind Half-Life and Portal, will launch a beta trial of its first hardware product next year.

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Speaking to Engadget, Valve employee Jeri Ellsworth explained how she and the rest of Valve's year-old hardware division are working on a prototype for a home console:

"To make Steam games more fun to play in your living room - that's the team's one-year goal, at least. The challenge is making games that require a mouse and keyboard palatable to people who are used to a controller, or to people who just don't want to migrate PC controls to the comfort of their living room. Working in tandem with Steam's newly beta'd "Big Picture Mode."

Talk of a so-called "SteamBox" has circulated the internet for some time now, but specifics on Valve's first console remain scarce.

The beta trial announcement comes at the same time as rumours surrounding Half-Life 3, the sequel to Valve's popular first-person shooting franchise, have appeared, hinting that the game may be ready for launch in 2013.

There is also speculation that Valve's hardware division is working on "wearable computers"; according to an interview from earlier this year with Valve employee Michael Abrash, also on Engadget, Valve have begun "initial investigation into a very interesting and promising space [though it's more] research than development."

Ellsworth claims that wearable technology is much more long-term goal, saying it could be "two to five years" before anything is revealed.