Valve's New "Knuckles" Controller Gives It New VR Edge

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Steve Anderson
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Valve's New "Knuckles" Controller Gives It New VR Edge

Not surprisingly, Valve is still a major force for development. While most would like to see it focus its development prowess on, say, finally bringing Half-Life 3 out, it's still got quite a bit to show off. Most recently, it brought out a new controller geared toward VR, and it represents a real advance in the field.

It's called the Knuckles right now, though it may not be called that for much longer. Currently with a dev kit out, the controller is wireless, and also offers the ability to track the location of all five of a user's fingers, thus allowing for some very precise controls.

Capacitive sensors track the fingers' locations while a strap on the controller allows it to stay in place without being dropped while your fingers flex around the device itself. That's actually a step up from the Oculus Touch, which only allows for slight opening of the fingers whing tracking non-index fingers.

It charges via micro-USB connection, and takes about an hour to charge to a three-hour battery life. That will likely hurt it with the hardcore gamer, but given that many likely won't be able to use VR for all that long between the neck pain and the strange points in perception, it might be just the right length after all.

Either way, it's clear that Valve's got the edge in the VR controller market so far, and that's good news for the company. VR has been gaining ground for some time now, albeit slowly, as the combination of rampant consumerism and Moore's Law helps ensure that systems get better and prices come down.

Having the right controller in VR settings is vital to making the experience as immersive as possible. That level of immersion is what makes VR such a powerful game developing tool, and so interesting to its players.

Still, we're going to have to see these in more hands than in just the developers' to see how it works in the overall market. We've got a long way to go before VR is truly mainstream, and when we get there, it's going to be a fundamentally different gaming market.

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