The "Knuckles" controllers are an in-progress project from Valve, which plans to bring more precise control to the SteamVR. With a unique design and some promising changes, the controllers are shaping up to a major evolution upon the existing HTC Vive "wands." We've rounded up the five things we're most excited to see from the "Knuckles," via information shared by both Valve and developers with prototype devices.
Precise per-finger control
One of the principal improvements with the Knuckles controllers is the promise of increased precision over the original HTC Vive wands. Although HTC almost perfected the tracking of the original Vive hardware, the controller's design led to some unforeseen limitations to interactivity.
The biggest change for with Knuckles will be finger tracking, through inbuilt touch capacitors lined along the bottom of the controller. Combining these sensors alongside a trigger and top-mounted touchpad, each of your fingers will have an input into virtual reality. Now the technology has been established, the burden now lies on developers to take advantage of the new inputs.
A more ergonomic design
With traditional consoles, controllers were an object specifically held to interact with the game. This has been an established approach for years and is almost second nature for the average gamer. However, since the HTC Vive's launch last year, it's become clear that the standards of the existing games industry don't necessarily transfer over to virtual reality.
Like Oculus Touch, which many regard as truly ergonomic VR controllers, the Knuckles encases your hand within a surrounding loop. This puts less pressure on players to constantly hold a physical object and frees up the fingers for more intuitive interactions.
Overall, these improvements should introduce some major changes to the flow of VR games, from action-driven shooters to social experiences.
Natural fit for all
Although this wasn't necessarily a problem with the original HTC Vive controllers, the shift to a design which surrounds the hands has introduced some new issues. Unlike the Oculus Touch controllers, which encase the whole hand in a hard shell, the Knuckles controllers bind to the player's fists through adjustable straps.
After inserting your hand into the controller, a thin cord can be pulled to tighten the controller against your hand. The padded fabric lining should ensure a tight yet comfortable fit, which securely binds to the player. This makes the controllers truly adaptable between different hand sizes, provided all five physical buttons can be reached.
A streamlined setup process
If you experienced issues with the original Vive wands, getting them re-calibrated could be a bothersome process. After taking off the headset, diving into the settings, and tracking down the right options, small issues could be easily distracting from an otherwise immersive VR experience.
With the Knuckles, which require more precise tracking, a new calibration method streamlines the process. By simply closing your hands entirely and making contact with all five buttons, the controller will quickly re-configure itself without the need to interact with your desktop. Just simply squeeze and go!
You can finally type!
While it might be insignificant to many, the ability to type while still holding onto the controllers should bring some welcome convenience to certain titles. In experiences where typing is required, putting down your remotes, inputting a few words and fumbling around with the controllers again can be a frustrating process. With a firm grip onto your hand, multitasking, in general, should become a lot easier after the new devices drop.
Which features are you most looking forward to from the Vive Knuckle controllers? Let us know your opinions in the comments.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.