Valve began shipping the latest version of its Knuckles controller to developers yesterday. Since doing so, the company has shared many details about the controller’s new features and also why these features were implemented.
With products like Oculus Go, Playstation VR, HTC Vive and more gaining popularity, virtual reality seems to be gaining traction with consumers. While these products are far from being runaway successes, most of them have garnered positive reviews with customers touting that the experience is futuristic and cannot believe that this technology already exists.
Although the technology feels like a glimpse into the future, these devices have a long way to go to before become mainstream products. In a world that is constantly pushing the envelope with wireless technology, the sheer amount of cables needed for most headsets paired with controllers is enough deter many consumers from buying into the tech now.
Bearing this in mind, companies choose to either make VR more convenient like Oculus has done with their standalone Go headset, or to push the limits of VR and make it more immersive like Valve has done with their new controller.
Valve refers to the new controller as Knuckles EV2, which replaces the Knuckles EV1.3. The new controller adds features like support for larger hands, an adjustable strap made with an easy-to-clean anti-microbial material, new control inputs and more.
The controller has been designed with comfort in mind, with tweaks to the handle and an adjustable strap that allow for more hand sizes than before. Valve claims that the changes to the input surface will also help in this area.
A thumbstick has been added to the controller based on feedback that they received from developers. They state that this will help with indirect actions like controlling vehicles and third-person characters.
The track button is another add-on to the controller and is placed in a position where your thumb will naturally rest, making it the main input method. This button serves as a trackpad but also sports a force sensor.
Force sensors are perhaps the most innovative portion of this new release. Not only does the track button support it, but so does the handle, adding support for more natural controls for movements like grabbing, crushing, and more.
The controller offers 6-hour battery life and takes about 90 minutes to charge. My favorite part is that it the controller charges via USB Type-C. Since the release of Apple’s latest MacBooks, I have been eager to see every company adopt this port.
Now that Valve has shipped kits to developers, it will be interesting to see how they integrate the new new force sensor capabilities. Valve has not provided a ship date or price at the time of publishing this post.