Valve's Knuckles VR Controller Lets You Control Individual Fingers

Image: Youtube (Cloudhead Games)

VR has a long way to go, but it's getting there real fast. And while wireless headsets are just on the horizon, so is a level of precision that could make VR games super interesting.

Cloudhead Games, a VR developer currently working on an episodic adventure fantasy called The Gallery, recently showed off the next evolution of Valve's VR tech. It's called the Knuckle controllers, and it's basically a new set of controllers with capacitive sensors that lets the user control all five fingers.

In a blogpost for UploadVR, Cloudhead's Denny Unger says the increased precision will help make VR a lot more organic, rather than relying solely on the gestural movements and mechanics that VR games rely on today.

"There’s a possibility for gestural movements to call functions and navigate dense data; there could be an entire language built out of using your hands to manipulate paint brushes and pencils and sizes and colours," Unger argues. "Once you take the mental load of an interface off the player—once they stop thinking about the controller—you can leverage that partition into experiential design and organic controls."

As he points out, life isn't the same without your hands and fingers, and improving the performance of that will go a long way to making VR an infinitely more immersive experience. Select Vive developers have already begun receiving prototype kits of the Knuckles controllers, and we'll no doubt hear a lot more about them at the next Steam Dev Days.


    Awesome to see how quickly VR is progressing. Why not go the whole nine yards and apply patches to the skin that can interpret signals firing the muscles and translate that into motion in-game?

    No lag either.

      Right now it's not the buttons, it's the tracking of the hands. They could probably make tiny sensors to detect pressure for closing fingers, but I don't think they can make the tracking smaller without resorting to different tracking. The Vive works so well because of how it tracks in real space.

      Can't wait for the day I just wear a glove or something!

        Yeah that'd be awesome! They could call it something cool like...Powerglove or something. Just brainstorming here :P

      The technologies required for that are still in their infancy and are far too invasive and expensive for commercial use.

      The last I heard anything on muscle controlled devices was that DARPA prosthetic arm from a few years back.

        Definitely something to keep an eye on though.

          Oh for sure, there are some crazy things going on out there.

          Some time ago I was reading about an experiment where a camera was fitted to a blind patient and connected to his tongue.
          Initially there was no reaction, but over a period they noticed his brain recognised a signal and was rewiring itself to read that signal through the tounge.
          Eventually the patient was able to make out objects with a strong contrast and could navigate around darker coloured obstacles in a white test corridor.

          It may not be the plug and play approach we have become accustomed to, but it wasn't that long ago that most of these experiments involved electronics inserted in to the brain to even have the slightest effect.

    How long before we have a real world Sword Art Online (not the canned one from IBM) or The World as seen in .hack//?

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