Pimax Controllers Look A Lot Like Valve’s Early ‘Knuckles’ Prototypes

by David Heaney • October 26th, 2018

China-based VR company Pimax recently put up a listing on its website for upcoming controllers for its “5K Plus” and “8K” PC headsets. Pimax plans to ship them sometime next year paired with base stations for $300.

In its 2017 Kickstarter for the “8K” ultra-wide FoV VR headset, Pimax promised simple VR controllers for $200 extra, with buttons, a thumbstick, and trigger, however the ergonomics did not seem to match more advanced VR controllers like Oculus’ Touch and Valve’s “Knuckles” prototypes.

Pimax original controllers from the Kickstarter.

In April of this year, Pimax scrapped its old controller design and revealed new ones, seemingly based on Valve’s early “Knuckles” prototypes of the time. The new controller promised an ergonomic design and is strapped onto the user’s hand directly, letting them open their hands and throw objects naturally, as well as a grip button and capacitive finger position detection.

Valve’s early “Knuckles” design.

With the recent store listing, Pimax has now refined its design. While they should have input parity with HTC’s Vive wands, the lack of a thumbstick may put some potential buyers off, and may be missed in a future where Oculus Touch and “Knuckles” could dominate the PC VR install base.

This animation shows the Pimax controllers compared to Valve’s latest “Knuckles” design. While Valve made significant changes to “Knuckles”, adding a thumbstick and 2 buttons as well as changing the trackpad into a “track button”, Pimax kept with the same basic design as the earlier “Knuckles” prototypes. It is possible Pimax chose not to emulate Valve with the final design simply because the controllers were too far along in development, or because they prefer this iteration. We reached out to Pimax to ask about the inspiration for the controllers but we didn’t hear back.

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