Valve Knuckles Controllers Add Squeezing, Thumbsticks & Finger-Tracking

The next generation of Valve’s knuckle controllers adds a whole new list of new immersive interactions.

Valve has begun rolling out the next evolution of their intuitive knuckle controller prototypes to developers which means a whole bunch of exciting upgrades and additions we being to look forward to.

Referred to by Valve as Knuckles EV2, the new model adds a variety of enhancements for a more personal, interactive VR experience. Among the changes include thumb stick navigation, a fresh button layout, improved ergonomics, as well as new sensors which support SteamVR tracking 2.0, as well as an improved battery life. The update also ditches the Micro USB, found on current Vive controllers, in favor of a faster, USB-C connection.

However the most exciting features come in the form of advanced finger and palm tracking. Using a strap connected to the controller, users are able to grip or open their palm while still maintaining control of the controller. This allows users to perform gestures such as making a fist or opening their hand to wave. Trackable squeezing also opens up a world of new possibilities for developers. By monitoring the tightness of users grip via hidden sensors, the knuckle controllers could be used to not only pick things up in VR, but throw or even ‘break’ them.

To assist developers in navigating this exciting new landscape, Valve has begun shipping out a small tech demo entitled Moondust. Surprisingly, the brief experience takes place within the Portal universe, with users in charge of producing increased supplies of “conversion gel.” Using the new controller features, users will perform various tasks such as collecting moon rocks, assembling machinery, even piloting a remote control car through a few twists and loops.

Based off the videos provided, it’s clear that the classic Portal charm is very much present throughout the short, but interesting experience. It’s also interesting that Valve chose to utilize their popular Portal franchise to test and promote their latest VR hardware. Could this be a tease towards a more developed Portal-based VR experience in the future? Or perhaps I’m just connecting dots that just aren’t there.

Either way, it’s exciting to receive a major update on the company’s long-teased knuckle prototype. With the Oculus Touch pretty much dwarfing the current Vive controller in terms of interactivity and control, an equally impressive option for the HTC Vive would be a welcomed sight.

Image Credit: Valve, Steam

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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