Developer Videos Show Valve’s Knuckles Controllers in Action

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New footage of Valve’s new ‘Knuckles’ controllers has emerged over the past few days, as developers begin to test out the new device. The ‘next-gen’ SteamVR controller prototypes represent a major advancement over the current Vive motion controllers, with five finger tracking and an ‘open hand’ grip.

The new controllers have been shipping to select developers, with prominent VR studio Cloudhead Games being one of the first the receive packages, which they’ve been keen to share on social media. A short video (heading this article) was released to their YouTube channel, presented by Cloudhead’s CEO and Creative Director Denny Unger, showing the simple package and intuitive hardware design.

Unger points out that you can grab and use them just like the Vive controllers, but the “magic happens” when you pull the cord to tighten the cinch that allows the user to fully release their grip. This short clip from Cloudhead shows the sort of advantages that can bring:

Playing around within the default SteamVR Home environment using a ‘five finger’ hand model option for the avatar, Unger highlights the capacitive sensors on the grip that allow for individual finger detection, and the trackpad that offers a more granular control of the virtual thumb position. The studio has been closely associated with Valve’s new design from an early stage, having been asked to create a demo for the first prototype hardware at its announcement at Steam Dev Days last year.

Other short clips of the controllers in action show developers rolling their fingers across the grip and ‘flipping the bird’, along with reactions and ‘unboxings’ from other notable VR studios such as Owlchemy Labs, Radial Games and Vertigo Games; see a collection of these Twitter ‘Moments’ here. Valve have not revealed their plans for a consumer version of the Knuckles controllers at this time.

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  • John Bowen

    Would like to see these used to develop virtual musical instruments.

    • Tyler Soward

      That’s an awesome idea!

    • RFC_VR

      Have you tried “Horizons” on Daydream View yet? The experience with the Ruben Cainer track has an incredible, subtle use of the track pad on the remote, and the position of the remote, to play a range of instruments which effect the backing track and virtual environment (a space tunnel). A stunning virtual reality experience. You could do even more incredible things with Knuckles.

      • John Bowen

        Have not, but will def check it out!

        • RFC_VR

          Have you tried L.U.N.E. on the Vive yet?

          The ‘abstract’ virtual reality applications are ones I find the most interesting and profound (gaming is awesome too!)

          Carefully designed, abstract experiences can work very well on the lower powered VR rigs (i.e. phone VR). As I always say, good VR is good VR.

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    Would like to see you throw a grenade or pull a pin. Maybe throw VR knives. That is the most awkward feeling in VR right now. I can’t wait for games that use trackers and knuckles.

    • Iordan Halatchev

      That’s great. No one should be learning how to pull pins or throw grenades. It’s good for all of us this way. DO NOT KILL!

      • Caven

        You do realize that we’re not talking about the Matrix, right? If an NPC dies in VR, nobody dies in real life. If you have trouble drawing a line between what happens in a videogame and what happens in real life, you already scare me a lot more than anyone who plays violent videogames. And you’re freaking out over an object that’s almost impossible to obtain without joining the military or being a professional terrorist. Anyone who is able to get their hands on a grenade probably got it from someone who plans to train them on its usage, so you’re not saving anyone from grenade violence by trying to enshroud the “oh, so complicated” pull pin, throw grenade process in secrecy. Anyone who’s ever seen a grenade thrown in a movie or TV show already knows what to do anyway.

        While you’re at it, you should express outrage at people who play racing games. People who drive cars kill tens of thousands of people in the US each year, making them roughly as deadly as guns. That’s pretty impressive when you think about it, since cars aren’t designed for killing people, and are full of safety features designed to limit injury and death. Why is an object full of air bags, seat belts, and crumple zones literally as deadly as an object full of bullets? It must be all them horrible racing games! Save lives! Quit learning how to be a murderer in Forza!

      • dogtato

        It’s ok to kill if you play a game with respawns.

      • brubble

        Youre joking right?…right? Yeah, youre definitely joking.

  • GreasyMullet

    Is it just me or does it appear to be all or nothing on the fingers? Is there no sensor to show if a finger is just bent a little or only half way down? This is still amazing, I am just trying to understand how far these things can go as full motion would be amazing!

    • Caven

      There’s a different video that briefly shows partial finger bending. It’s called “Video: Watch Valve’s New ‘Knuckles’ VR Controller in Action”. For me, there’s a link to it right above this comment section under “Related Articles”. It was visible from 0:19 – 0:24.

    • Matias Nassi

      As you can check in the “Accessing Finger Curl Values” section from here the controllers will provide multiple curl stages (up to 25 intermediate positions for each finger as far as I know)

  • Daemon Hunt

    I think in lieu of having to wear a complete glove… that this is a really cool solution and should make us happy for a while :) I’m guessing that each finger “grip” action can provide the requisite haptic “bump” as well?

  • TerribleTs

    Cannot WAIT for the Knuckles to hit mainstream and have all developers putting out new/ updated content. I’m definitely grabbing a pair!
    Side note: it’s simply amazing how much VR has taken off this time around. The industry seems to be developing answers for all the previous stumbling blocks. Next up his haptics for mainstream VR!