Valve this week revealed the newest version of their upcoming ‘Knuckles’ VR controllers which have graduated from the ‘EV’ prototype distinction to ‘DV’ dev kits. While Valve has yet to offer any indication of launch timing, the latest refinements suggest the final version is near at hand.

Knuckles is Valve’s next-gen VR controller which is loaded with sensors that the company hopes will make VR more immersive by bringing more of user’s natural hand dexterity into the virtual world. In addition to being able to sense which buttons or sticks are being touched—similar to Oculus’ Touch controllers—the handle of Knuckles has capacitive and force sensors inside which allow the controller to detect full finger movement and even grip strength.

Having publicly shown off the Knuckles VR controllers for the first time all the way back in 2016, development of the device has seemed in the intervening time. That is until 2018 when the company became a little less secret and began showing off more significant progress with the EV, EV2, and EV3 Knuckles prototypes.

Exclusive: Cloudhead Games Goes In-depth with Knuckles EV2 & Predecessors

This week Valve revealed the latest version, Knuckles ‘DV’, which company is now referring to as a “dev kit” while calling the EV-series “prototypes.” Changes from EV3 to DV are largely refinements to the feel of the controller, along with tweaks which seem focused on bringing the fit and finish up to consumer-ready levels. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Cap Sense
    • Capacitive sensors have been rearranged to accommodate more hand sizes
    • Firmware has been updated to take advantage of the new sensors
  • Trigger
    • Trigger spring strength increased
    • Trigger click feel improved
  • Strap
    • Increased durability of strap adjustment connector
    • Strap adjust feel improved
  • Firmware
    • Fast charging improved
    • Fixed pairing bugs
    • Improved stability
  • Other
    • Thumbstick feel improved
    • Force sensor variation reduced
    • LED light leakage minimized
    • Improved fit and finish
    • Improved reliability

Developers can request one of the dev kits through the Steamworks Partner Site via the ‘request Beta Hardware’ link. Valve says it’s making Knuckles DV “available in quantity,” though still expects that developer demand will outstrip supply.

Image courtesy Valve

Valve previously said that it was sending out “hundreds” of EV2 prototypes, and it sounds like DV will be available even more widely. At this point we expect that the company is already doing small manufacturing runs of the controllers and refining their manufacturing process in tandem with the controller in anticipation of wider production.

With the latest improvements to the controller, 2019 is looking like an increasingly good bet for a release, though the company has been extremely tight-lipped about a release date. Whenever the release date does come, many are expecting that the controllers will launch alongside one of three VR games that Valve has confirmed are in development.

Newsletter graphic

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. More information.

Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Baldrickk

    I can’t help feeling that Valve want to release the Knuckles and their HMD as one package (or at least together) for a full product. Based on what we’ve seen in the leak, it’s looking really promising and I’m going to be following this intently.

    • jj


    • James Cobalt

      My expectation too. I suspect the hope is to release the Knuckles, HMD (possibly in collaboration with LG?), and Half Life prequel as a launch package.

    • AlanWake

      This would be great. I’m waiting for Valve HMD so much..

      • HybridEnergy

        Valve time so, around 2028 or so. heh

    • NooYawker

      Throw in HL3 while they’re at it.

      • Downvote King

        You joke, but if they somehow managed to slip a surprise Half-Life 3 release into the same window as their new headset and Knuckles controllers, that could blow up VR…

        • NooYawker

          I swore up and down when the HTC Vive was released it would be with HL3. So I’m cautiously optimistic.

          • Downvote King

            Yeah, I won’t be holding my breath on it, but it would be a pretty smooth move on Valve’s part… I think they may be waiting to release HL3 until VR has matured to a mainstream technology though – which at this point mostly means sorting out locomotion; better resolution, FOV and wireless functionality are already right around the corner, and are likely incorporated in Valve’s new HMD design, but until they solve locomotion I don’t see it becoming truly mainstream.

          • Jeremiah Tothenations

            I would put comfort/form factor high on the list as well.

        • Tyler Soward

          that would be huge

        • Zachary Scott Dickerson

          I thought it was actually Half-Life 2, episode 3? I never got to finish after episode 2… And what happened to HL2 VR port?

          • Downvote King

            Lol at this point I’d consider it straight up trolling if they release another episode of HL2. The story can just continue in HL3, wrap it up in the opening hours if need be before moving on. There’s talk of a HL3 prequel as well.

            I think the HL2 port was just a mod community thing that has gone mostly nowhere, and very slowly…

      • impurekind

        If they did this, and the game was actually great, THEN I think they’d have a potentially big VR hardware/software hit on their hands.

    • Proof XR Lab

      the advantage of a modular ecosystem?

      Valve orange box:- headset, lighthouses, knuckles, software title(s). Hell yeah!!

      Valve bundle:- lighthouses+knuckles – great for Pimax headset purchasers (or any headset only purchases i.e. Vive Pro, StarVR if that happens).

      Valve knuckles – great for Vive/Pro owners with working or defective legacy controllers (wands).

      • Patrick McKee

        I don’t think these will work with Lighthouse tracking v1, so would need v2. If and when valve announces hmd and everything, I see a huge flood of vive one on ebay, the likes of which we have never seen lol.

        • DiGiCT Ltd

          They work perfectly with LH v1.
          It is downward compatible.
          LHV1 equipment cant work with LH V2 thats how you need to see it.
          LH v2 does not work with LH v1 equipment
          So the original vive wands dont wok on LHv2 .
          But the new ones doe work on LH v1.

          • Patrick McKee

            Ok awesome thanks I was confused

          • Proof XR Lab

            it is somewhat confusing, no doubt! A good advertising campaign could educate people so they understand this issue.

          • benz145

            This is correct, but confusing even to me from time to time! I think Valve would do well to make it clearer to users what’s compatible with what for everything under the SteamVR Tracking umbrella.

  • HybridEnergy

    Time to release these things Valve.

  • shaggytherodgers

    I’m glad valve is moving into the vr game. With HTC trying to milk its buyers with the “deluxe audio strap”costing $100 and new controllers for $120.

    • SandmaN

      Just fyi, the regular Vive controllers are actually $130 and the Vive ‘2.0’ controllers are $199. Ridiculous, I say.

      • jj

        holy shit a 200$ item is not something you should be swinging around with no visibility

    • Zachary Scott Dickerson

      Wow, I never even noticed, I didn’t realize this was from valve, and not HTC. Great, I want these even more now.

  • Patrick McKee

    I can’t wait put my knuckles in those knuckles. Valve is an example to the rest of these companies on how to truly take your time and cook up some badass hardware.

  • HomeAudio

    Time out, time out, time out….
    Error, bip bip bip, Error….

    (Faster they will announce end of the VR industry than they will release these controllers)

  • i want them

  • Jistuce

    Sonic and Knuckles.

  • It doesn’t look like they fixed the grip trigger. The Oculus Tough has a proper button, so picking up, dropping, and even holding is a breeze. On the VIVE wands, the button is a hard click sort, and holding it down requires some force. It’s effectively useless.

    It’s good to see the joysticks as well. It was a HUGE oversight to relay on the touchpad, which I stated numerous times here is impossible to use dependably without sight. I would like to take all of the words from all of the touchpad-defenders, put them all in a large bowl, and FEED it to them. Even Valve now accepts that joysticks are essential to VR.

    That little swipe strip is a slightly better idea, although I’d bet money right now that people will accidentally hit it all of the time as their fingers travel between the joystick and the buttons. Anytime your thumb doesn’t move ALL the way over, you’ll be right in that divot, activating that swipe pad.

    I wonder why Valve is so good as pursuing new technology, but so bad at implementing it correctly? The designers at Oculus are far more intelligent in their interface planning.

    • Caven

      What do you mean they didn’t fix the grip trigger? There’s no grip trigger to fix.

    • FeepingCreature

      Personally speaking as a PC gamer who never used a gamepad I love the touchpad, and I am *not* looking forward to having to get used to joysticks.

  • Str][ker

    Valve hopefully called the headset development program, Project Cake. This way, if anyone asks about it, they can simply say “The cake is a lie!”

  • Tom Szaw

    Half-Life 3 VR, P!L!E!A!S!E!!!

  • oompah

    Hope it works with The Elder Scrolls
    me used to xbox controller
    Soooo convenient
    VR controllers r too so bad that u realize this when u
    lose the game

  • nebošlo

    Unpopular opinion maybe, but I feel the original Oculus Touch controllers were perfect ergonomically, and everything else everyone’s been showing (Valve included) just looks inferior in that respect.

    • Joshua Corvinus

      I’ve used both and the Touch controllers are definitely better in terms of ergonomics. The Touch controllers don’t come close to Knuckles in terms of functionality though. The capsense tracking is pretty good at approximating an entire hand, way better than Touch’s touch/no touch detection, and the force sensors are a great addition. Thing is, I don’t think it’s possible to fit all the stuff knuckles does into something as slim as the Touch controllers. That said, the difference in ergonomics really isn’t so big as to be a showstopper – the knuckles controllers will still be very popular and I use them more than Touch.

  • y_m_o

    The graphics/design of the old controllers are often shown in-game when showing the player what button does what… will the new design of knuckles get patched into older titles? I doubt it, if the devs are no longer around.