Having revealed the ‘Knuckles’ EV2 controller development kit just a few months ago, Valve has rapidly incorporated improvements based on feedback from developers and today revealed the updated EV3. The company says will be “produced in much greater quantities than EV2,” of which Valve said “hundreds” were shipped. Improvements from EV2 to EV3 are less significant compared to the big changes from the previous update, but suggest the company is very near to a finished product.

Update (September 26th, 2018): Valve has begun reaching out to developers of both EV2 and developers who requested a kit through the partner site to gather information and start shipping out EV3 dev kits.

For developers who have not yet requested a kit, they’ll be able to log into the Steamworks Partner Site and find the Request Beta Hardware link on their landing page. The original article follows below:

Original Article ( September 18th, 2018)Revealing the Knuckles EV3 controllers today, Valve shared a brief rundown of changes from EV2:

  • Strap
    • Strap adjustment markings have been added to the top plate
    • Strap rivet is thinner and no longer interferes with the wing
    • Drawstring is now shorter
  • Trigger
    • Trigger spring is now stronger
    • Improved Trigger assembly and reliability
  • System Button
    • The System button has been recessed slightly to avoid accidental presses
  • Grip FSR
    • Grip FSRs (force sensors) more consistent from unit to unit
  • Battery Life
    • Higher efficiency sensors increase battery life by 2 hours
    • Players can now expect 7-8 hours of playtime per charge
  • Other
    • LED light mixing improved
    • USB port has been recessed, making it easier to connect the charge / data cable
    • Improved fit and finish
    • Improved reliability

Valve says it shipped out “hundreds” of EV2 dev kits, and is planning to produce “much greater quantities” of EV3. This trend follows a similar approach that Valve and HTC took with the debut of the Vive where Valve sent out rough prototypes to a handful of developers and then expanded that pool with the HTC ‘Vive Pre’ which was a nearly complete version of the final Vive consumer headset which shipped a few months later.

Knuckles EV3 | Image courtesy Valve

For developers looking to get their hands on Knuckles EV3, Valve says they’ll be reaching out to existing EV2 recipients and those who requested an EV2 through the Steamworks partner page to begin shipping units. Soon they’ll open a new request form for EV3 for those who haven’t already received or signed up for EV2. They recommend checking the Steamworks partner page or the Knuckles EV3 announcement post for updates on that front.

For developers who plan to design games with Knuckles in mind, the company updated their Moondust tech demo to work with EV3 and revealed the source files for developers to pick apart. The basis for Knuckles integration is the new SteamVR Interaction System; Valve has updated the Unity plugin to support Knuckles, the SteamVR Input System, and SteamVR Skeletal Input. Developers are directed here to learn about it the Interaction System.

Want to know more about Knuckles? Our prior Knuckles writeup details the big changes that came with EV2 and further explores the Moondust demo. We’ve also got an in-depth look at Knuckles EV2 compared to a slew of earlier prototypes thanks to our friends at Cloudhead Games.

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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."
  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Wonder if Oculus could use these?

    • Rogue Transfer

      Not without the HTC Vive or Pimax Lighthouses – the Knuckles have sensors inside that require to see them to track.

      • HybridEnergy


      • FireAndTheVoid

        It might be in Valve’s interest to create a version which replaces the infrared sensors with infrared LEDs so that their 3 upcoming games are Oculus-compatible.

        • Blaexe

          They can and most likely will still be Touch compatible. Knuckles and Touch are way more similar than Touch and the Wands.

          And Oculus will certainly come out with new controllers in combination with Rift 2 too.

    • Mei Ling

      Until the Knuckles are officially released the Oculus Touch is actually the best and most comfortable VR input system out there.

    • MosBen

      It seems extremely unlikely to me that Oculus doesn’t have their own updated controller in the works. The Touch controllers are great, but improving ergonomics and input design are as important to furthering the development of VR as improved FOV and resolution.

  • Jistuce

    EV3… HL3…
    Oh god, these are never going to ship.

    • JJ

      this is supposed to be the final version before they ship. i hope they actually do ship soon

      • Jim Dole


        • jj

          oh that went so far over my head!!(can you sense the sarcasm?)

          i was saying I actually trust them this time and hope its not like HL3. but whatever, you can just keep assuming everyone’s as dumb as you

      • Blaexe

        People were saying the exact same about EV2. Not saying you’re wrong, but we simply don’t know.

    • Gus Bisbal

      HL3 will never be made by Valve. They are an R & D company and Steam pays for that. R & D companies do not make big products. That takes discipline not inspiration. They are just about doing things that inspire them.

  • gothicvillas

    as a non developer… can I order these somehow?

    • benz145

      Nope, not yet.

    • Laurence Nairne

      Read the damn article ;)

  • J.M.Wagner

    At this rate Pimax may have their version out sooner :p

  • HybridEnergy

    Want these. I don’t like the wands and I actually don’t like the touch controllers either. Both are stupid. The wands need a analog stick and/or a more durable touch pad. The touch controllers need a longer shaft (spare me the jokes) because my last two fingers are falling off the controller.

  • MosBen

    I wonder if these are using USB-C or USB 3.1. I’m still gaming on a custom desktop from five years ago which lacks USB-C ports, but I have a laptop that I’ve been thinking about pairing with an external graphics enclosure to use as my gaming PC, and it does have USB-C ports. I’m eager to leave this phase, where some things use USB-C and others are still on USB 3.1. It’ll be nice to move to a single port type in the next few years.

    • Caven

      If they include a separate adapter like the Vive trackers have, it will probably be USB 2.0. Otherwise, I’d expect the Knuckles controllers to sync directly to the headset.

      For the controllers themselves, the actual connector shouldn’t matter too much, since it would normally only be used as a charging port. I’d prefer USB-C just because it’s reversible, but Micro USB should be fine too.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      But that wouldn’t be a problem, just use a cable with one end USB-C and the other ‘regular’ USB..

  • Sandy Wich

    So Pimax 5K+ and Vive Knuckles = Ultimate VR combo likely a couple years ahead of it’s time?


    • Zachary Scott Dickerson

      now if only they would make games that uses these controllers. I’m not happy with the lack of games for body tracking with trackers I bought.

      • Laurence Nairne

        I’d expect the main input peripheral to have more traction that the tracking pucks – while they potentially make an experience better, they’re not an essential piece of interaction, where as the main device for input is – They represent your hands in virtual space, and (if they meet the expectations) these are a marked improvement upon the wands.

        • mirak

          I can see how it would make less awakard reloading a gun a select the fire rate, but it would still not bring AAA games, which seems to be the major problem to people.
          Not really to me, but that comes often.

          • Laurence Nairne

            While gaming may be your only interest (not a criticism), VR is not a games implement – it’s content agnostic to a degree. These controllers are much better suited to object manipulation. That’s huge for enterprise, and should be for games too. AAA is only a problem for gamers wanting cinematic level visuals – that’ll come.

      • Arif Anwer

        Hii Zachary Scott,
        you can use the vr games you can enjou so much and also you have obtain great experience with virtul reality games and other gadgtes..

      • G-man

        htc completely screwed up with the trackers. they made the new 2018 version and didnt even have the firmware on it at a point where it could do that same things as the previous version. they dont care, and so hardware devs dont care, software devs dont car.e it s more a thing companies can use to make their own product than a customer can use to have a better gaming experience. except for maybe racket nx, if you gdont mid paying an extra $100 on top of the $100 for the tracker, just for the plastic racket.

    • MosBen

      Well, and add an RTX 2080ti to that equation.

      But I think that while Pimax may be the first through the gate with legitimate 2nd generation HMDs, Oculus and HTC/Valve will have something that competes in a year’s time, which is hopefully around the time that graphics hardware on the RTX 2080ti level has come down to reality, price-wise.

      • NooYawker

        Slightly higher res and FOV doesn’t constitute 2nd generation. Gen 2 will have actual new tech. Spec bumps doesn’t make it a new gen.

        • G-man

          there is no gen 2, did you buy a gen 2 monitor for your pc?

          • NooYawker

            Gen 2 only counts for new products how long has monitors been around?

          • G-man

            only counts for new products? wtf are you talking about? consoles have been counting generations for decades.

            neither a vr headset nor a monitor are the same as a console. consoles have one design that works on its own and then they have a completely different version that you have to buy games for just that. its designed to be completely seperate so they can charge you for the same games again and other bs.

            a vr headse tis like a pc, a monitor, a tv, your blooody fridge. there is no generations. they just work.

    • Icebeat

      Yeah, Abrash is not going to be happy, they destroy his 5 years prediction.

      • benz145

        I doubt Abrash would be upset to see VR advancing faster than he expected.

        • R FC

          As Palmer Luckey recently said in the Wired interview “A rising tide lifts all boats..”

          • mirak

            That’s what you say when you see yourself as a rising tide and not a boat.

  • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea
  • Igor Mattos

    Where can i buy this?

  • Arif Anwer

    Hello Dear ,

    your site to give good information about the virtual realty 3D technology

    • jj

      it looks like your still trying to grasp the English language! Good try, you’re so close!
      Here are some tips!
      In forums like these the “Hello dear” is too formal and unnecessary, same with using the name “Dear” refers to someone on a personal level to you and not so much a name to be used in a public letter.

      You last sentence was sooo close too, we know what you meant so it did the job. To be correct though you should exchange “To give” with “gives” and then it will sound accurate to fluent English speakers.

      have a good day:)

      • NM

        Funny that you’re correcting someone’s English when you can’t tell the difference between “your” and “you’re”. I wouldn’t normally point this out but under the circumstances…

  • I’m excited… Knuckles promise to be the best controllers ever for VR!

  • Sam Illingworth

    The touch area is very narrow isn’t it? Looks like it’ll only be good for vertical movement, which makes you wonder why not just use an old fashioned scroll wheel?

    • Caven

      Supposedly it still works for horizontal swiping, at least according to an article about the EV2 version. Unfortunately, its reduced size prevents it from being effectively used as a customizable panel of buttons, which was my main interest in the touchpad. On the plus side, other features of the controller make up for that loss.