Valve have been quietly working on an updated version of the HTC Vive controllers for a while now, with very early prototypes being glimpsed at Valve’s Steam Dev Days conference last year. Now the company have revealed some more details about the upcoming Development Kits for the new controllers.
The main advantage of the Knuckles controllers over the standard Vive controller is that the Knuckles controllers allow for individual finger tracking, along with an outer ring that allows the main part of the controller to be released without dropping the controller. This allows for users to pick up and drop objects within the virtual world, as well as other actions such as grabbing, pulling and pushing that were previously very difficult to achieve reliably.
The controllers still feature a trigger, trackpad, face buttons and system button. At present, the Knuckles controllers are only compatible with the beta branch of Steam VR, which can be enabled from the Tools menu in the Steam client.
The development versions of the Knuckles controllers require calibration to allow for the finger tracking to work correctly, which involves holding the controller with the index finger on the trigger and thumb on the track pad for one second, then releasing. Valve have stated that the commercial versions should not need this additional calibration.
SteamVR Home has already been made compatible with the Knuckles controllers so developers who have the new controllers can experiment with how the Knuckles controllers function. IfSteamVR Home detects a user with the Knuckles Controllers equipped, their avatar model will automatically be given five-fingered hands, as opposed to the standard three-fingered hands.