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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  • Pistol Pete

    Preparing for Vive 2.0. Hmm. Hope it comes with a 4K HMD!

    • Walextheone

      4K would be awesome right. I just can’t see graphics card would handle that yet.
      But if a combo of foveated rendering and ATW is used, maby it will be feasible

      • LIV

        PSVR makes it clear that we aren’t really ready to push it up to 4k. The issues with HMD’s is more the comfort of usage and initial upfront cost. We can push the pixels later imo.

        • Torben Bojer Christensen

          PSVR depends on low-end (ordinary PS4) or at best mediocore hardware (PS4 Neo), compared to what is possible now and 1 year from now on expensive high-end PC platforms. 4K-VR might just be possible with forward rendering today at the highest end PC’s and perhaps even more so in a year or two on lower priced high end rigs. But 4K VR with min 90 fps at mainstream prices, thats a console generation or more down the line. (post PS4 Neo & XBox “Scorpio)

          • LIV

            AMD and Nvidia are on notice. Where they are for years we’re doing slight iteration they know they need to scale much faster with these new demands. Be interesting to see how much faster they create watt/TFLOP increases over the next few years. Wondering if Intel will ever make powerful enough integrated graphics they really need to or the future doesn’t look too bright for them. They missed the mobile generation, I hope they don’t miss the VR/AR generation as well.

    • DeeHawk

      In your terms, the current Vive was also preperation for Vive 2.0. You sure will get a 4k HMD, but you’re gonna wait a couple of years. And that might very well be a realistic time scale for the next generation HMD’s as well. I’m very sure this is for current gen, as we need more controller options. (Especially 2-hand rifles!)

      • Pistol Pete

        Good point. I would bet money a 4K HMD is closer than you think though.

        • DeeHawk

          It’s already made in several unknown prototypes, but there just isn’t any visible consumer market in the near future. Not even 1080Ti is going to be able to run 2x 4K@90Hz. So, the hardware would have to be targeted towards SLI-users = not profitable development.

          • Pistol Pete

            Don’t forget most of the current VR games do not require much GPU performance. In many VR games my GTX 1070 will sit at only 25-30% use. This compiled with new Pascal VR rendering techniques and I could see 4K 90fps feasible with Nvidia next gen GPU late next year the GTX 1180 or whatever they will call it. Also what Walextheone said about ATW, where the GPU can render much lower than 90fps while still maintaining the 90fps smoothness. I think VR tech will move fairly quickly.

          • DeeHawk

            Technologies for pushing the limits are definately there, but have you actually tried any newer games on a 4K monitor? My 980ti is doing fine with Vive, but I’m still seeing some skipped frames and uneven framerates. And you’re talking about 4 times the amount of pixels (10,6 million vs 2,6 million). I don’t see it happening in a year, but I’d love to be proven wrong. Meanwhile, I’ll be having tons of fun with my Lo-Res HMD xD

          • G-man

            ASW/ATW is just inserting duplicate frames, it will not be “90fps smoothness”. i think the whole encouraging people to buy underpowered machines and relying in interpolated frame sis going to result in a lot of pissed off nauseated people, just because oculus want to sell more headset to people who think it’s too expensive.

          • Marc

            You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. The bullshit you just said is actually not reality, PSVR is a prime example of how you can take 60fps and make it a smooth 120 fps without making people sick.

          • G-man

            it is less likely to make people sick, but 60 is the bare minimum devs are allowed to dip to, ideally psvr runs at higher than 60, because at 60, no matter what ticks you use it doesn’t look and feel perfect. its not just about making people feel sick or not, frame rates is also about it feeling real or it feeling like looking at a video screen. but yeah, i don’t know anything, fuck off

          • Cé Pamoi

            Fovated rendering (which involves eyes tracking) will allow very high resolution screen without being too demanding on the gpu side.

          • Mórász Dávid

            unfortunately fovated rendering where pixel density depends on your eye’s focus is not an easy and trivial implementation on current graphics pipeline, either you have to write your custom rasterizer in low level api like dx12 or vulkan, or use opengl/dx11 compute shaders, which also means you have to rewrite your entire post-processing deferred lighting pipeline to sample from variable pixel density buffers. and on the other hand it might not be faster at all on current hardware because now you loose the lightning fast traditional hardware triangle rasterization process

          • LIV

            Guy who knows what he is talking about thank you.

          • James Friedman

            Well they might be able to if they are able to implement some of the tech Oculus introduced with Async reprojection. That would allow headsets to lock 90hz 4k on current 1080, 1070 GPU’s. I do believe we a are a couple years off though.

          • Frogacuda

            I think people get hung up on this idea that people need to run at native 4K for a 4K headset to be viable. Having a higher native resolution is going to look better, less screen door, and it gives devs some lattitude to work with. You can still upscale from a lower resolution or use something like Oculus’ ASW to run at a lower framerate. It makes the headsets a bit future-proof, and it gives developers and users room to scale. Some experiences with simpler graphics (think: Rez Infinite) may run perfectly well at 4K, even.

          • G-man

            and it makes the hardware even more expensive and delayed even further, in a marekt where people have been waiting way too long and the product is a higher price than most people wanted. yeah they hould definitely have delayed them and added to the price to get 4k in there so that they wouldn’t use it at first and eventually get to use the 4k resolution…

        • GodMk2

          I’d be more interested in less screen door effect than more resolution. I can’t play project cars at current resolution on a 1080, a) because the fps drops off, and b) cars 100m away are blocky and full of black screen lines. Resolution will help, but not as much as filling the gaps .

      • Badelhas

        In my opinion, what we really need is a AAA studio to launch a breakthrough VR game that changes everything. I am tired of weak independent games/demos and early access crap.

        WE NEED BETTER CONTENT!

  • polysix

    Don’t believe anything you heard Abrash say on oculus connect, they are trying to trickle feed the industry. Meanwhile in real (Virtual) reality, strides are being made daily to improve the tech where it counts, not just dreaming up new way to harvest user data for facebook!

    Well done Valve, keep it up. Well done Sony on ergonomics, Keep it up! Oculus? GTFO of here with your mobile VR (party trick) emphasis and ‘social’ VR codswallop! If I wanted to socialise I wouldn’t be in fucking VR in the first place, get it?

    • Paulo

      Valve fanboy? Lets not underestimate the importance of Social VR and Facebook. Without it, the masses would not be interested in VR. And every game benefits from playing with others. For me, a MMO gamer of over 10 years, its a natural progression and Im extremely excited to see where it goes.

    • OkinKun

      Your nuts. Quit spamming that false nonsense.

    • James Friedman

      So u think Valve won’t be trying to have social experiences?

      • GodMk2

        I don’t think its about Valve – do you know anyone who uses the social experiences? I dropped into a couple – no one there and thought meh… just as I figured, who wants to talk to an avatar. That said, the lobby chat in Onwards can be entertaining.

      • DougP

        I would trust Valve a lot more with privacy concerns.
        Having 4x Facebook cameras pointed into my “VR room” ….just not something I’d trust them with to handle from a security & privacy standpoint. Zuckerberg’s made very clear what his stance on privacy is – which he thinks it’s non-existent & that Facebook *owns* whatever in your personal “digital world” streams into theirs.

    • Nashoba Darkwolf

      Bahahahaha! Didn’t take long for a vive fundamentalist to trash talk once HTC realized it needed to up its game with the controllers.

      • DougP

        Re: ” vive fundamentalist”
        Will…I don’t know if that’s accurate, I mean the also praised Sony.
        The swipe seemed more aimed at Facebook thinking people want VR for “social” instead of games/experiences/apps.
        Myself – I don’t even have a Facebook account & never will.
        Steam is the defacto std for PC gaming distribution & already has the connectivity tissues for gaming/chatting w/friends. So for people like me, there’s nothing Facebook could bring to the table.

        Security –
        I work in IT security industry. I also don’t know how well I trust Facebook w/having me install 4x video cameras in my “VR playspace” from a security perspective. They’ve not been proven to be very trustworthy with privacy.

  • Nate

    Honestly, this looks like 2 steps too much to put this on to use as a controller. Maybe the final version won’t have as many straps to attach. All in all it looks and sounds pretty cool and I’ll reserve further judgement for the final product.