Hands-On Reports Of Valve’s New Controller Prototype

by Ian Hamilton • October 12th, 2016

Valve brought out its new controller prototypes at Steam Dev Days and attendees are getting hands-on demos.

The new controllers strap onto the hand like a glove but feature an outer ring covered in tracking sensors. The design should allow people to grasp and drop objects in VR realistically.

“I didn’t have to think about input,” Eva Hoerth tells Upload. “I just did it.”controller

Max Weisel also went hands-on with the controllers, providing us with that featured photo above and telling us “Valve is clearly putting a lot of work into thinking about all the different things your hands can be in VR.”

For the demo, Cloudhead Games built a version of its beach environment from The Gallery: Call of the Starseed with a bunch of items for people to grab.

“The only things I could do was grab highlighted objects,” Hoerth told us about the demo. “All I had to do to grab an object was reach out and grip, no buttons required. If I wanted to throw, all I had to do was pull back and release, as if I would in the real world. I was still scared that I would accidentally chuck the controller in someone’s face, but that thankfully didn’t happen. This new controller isn’t just another toy–it’s a new form of input that is the most intuitive I have encountered.”

back-side-controller

The prototype should not be seen as a confirmation of a future hardware direction for Valve or its partner HTC. That said, the current HTC Vive controllers include awkward grip buttons on the side that are hard to reach and don’t make much sense since you are already grasping the controller.

With these prototype controllers, however, you can release your grasp to drop something virtually to the floor and your hand remains strapped to the controller. We’re also told the prototype has some ability to recognize finger positions, which is an important feature of the forthcoming Oculus Touch controllers.

Developers going hands-on with this unnamed hardware prototype will likely give Valve valuable feedback the company can use to hone in on controllers which might be better built for grasping or gripping objects.

Additional photos from Hoerth via Twitter:

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