Valve’s SteamVR Knuckles Controllers Revealed In Setup Guide

by Jamie Feltham • June 22nd, 2017

Valve keeps revealing more of its new Knuckles controllers for SteamVR in the most unexpected of ways. Earlier this week we saw a virtual prototype for the kit within SteamVR Home, and now a setup guide has revealed even more information.

A quick start guide for these new controllers has just surfaced online, letting developers know how to (literally) get to grips with them. There’s plenty of useful information for the curious, though, including the detailed look at the system’s various buttons below. As you can see, the device features two face buttons located next to its trackpad, with a system button below. A trigger sits on the bottom and a micro USB charging port is housed below too. You can even see how you’re meant to hold the device.

Following that, Valve has a lot information about how to install the device, but more interesting are the GIFs showing people actually using them. The first demonstrates how the user can let go of the core controller, with the grip then holding it in place. A strap is used to tighten and loosen the grip around your hand.

The post also details the finger tracking for the controller, which needs to be calibrated. Once organized, you can use the controllers inside SteamVR Home. Valve says that the current iteration of the controllers has a battery life of three hours, and they’ll take about an hour to recharge. That could obviously change for the consumer version of the devices, though.

This info dump suggests that some lucky developers may already have their fingers on the Knuckles controllers. What we don’t know is when we’ll be able to try them out for ourselves; Valve hasn’t provided a public demonstration of the controllers just yet. We’ll be eager to learn when they’ll be releasing, though at a guess we’d say the upcoming refreshed base stations expected to launch later this year would be the perfect complement to them. Perhaps we could even see them bundled in with LG’s upcoming SteamVR headset?

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What's your reaction?
  • Joan Villora Jofré

    Can sense every finger!

  • Well, cool. I wonder if those sensors are able to detect more discrete statuses of the fingers or if they’ll detect only open/closed state like Oculus Touch… Anyway, the fact that can track all fingers is cool…

    • Joan Villora Jofré

      You can hold and object and throw it, I thinkd its has a better sense.

    • Nicholas

      They’re capacitative/touch-sensitive, not magical tracking sensors, so only open and close much like the Touch controllers. Looking forward to using them, if only so I can let go of the controllers without dropping them! 🙂

  • NooYawker

    What’s the outer bar there for? Let’s hope they add a bigger battery, if people start playing Fallout or Skyrim I’m sure they’ll be playing for more than 3 hours. Lot’s of people play for more than 3 hours on a regular game.

    • Huacanacha

      The bar is rigidly attached with tracking sensors embedded to minimise the chance of occlusion from the lighthouse scans, similar in purpose to the ring section on the Vive wands, and it also helps with weight distribution and balance especially when released. Might also contain additional battery.

    • chicanoterp06

      I wonder why they don’t let us put in our own battery, much like the rift…the rift control lasts a very long time before I have to replace it.

      • polysix

        Because they are not idiots like Facebook? And actually design things properly. Only an oculus fan could spin the use of AA batteries as a positive in 2017.

        • chicanoterp06

          wow, very eager to attack people I see…I have both a vive and a rift btw…the point I was making was that I would prefer to be able to remove a rechargeable battery and replace it, whereupon I could then continue my gaming session without having to wait an hour for recharge

          • Get Schwifty!

            Polysix IS a confirmed idiot, I mean, Vive Loyalist no question so you can’t expect more than that limited perspective. The battery solution works very well (not to mention longer) and if you choose rechargeable, all the better over time. Either solution will work, but I would prefer the batteries currently due to the limited charging of built in batteries.

        • usherjerksoffsonyfanboys

          love my Vive, but having a battery option is a defiant positive. This isn’t playstation we don’t need sony fanboy like kids ragging on other products.

      • The internal batteries would be much less of an issue if they used a USB-C port instead of micro and used a higher voltage charger. Like the 15V one that comes with the Nintendo Switch.

    • polysix

      Also to protect the hand when you bash a wall (as someone who smacked my og vive wand against a wall while swinging at skeleton warriors in realms… I’ll take it)

  • Doctor Bambi

    Totally awesome. So it sounds like the capacitive surfaces along the body of the controller are able to be calibrated to fit your particular hand size and it’ll be able to sense each individual finger. That’s lovely and I can’t wait to see how developers play with this new layer of control. Due to the more natural grip style, playing games designed for Oculus Touch with the Knuckles controllers should be a more comfortable translation. Same goes for Touch users playing Knuckles based games.

    And strapping into the controller seems like a breeze in that gif, but I’m still concerned about getting the second one on and then subsequently the headset. Hopefully that’s not too much of a hassle. All-in-all though, color me impressed. These look like a great next step for VR interactivity.

  • koenshaku

    These should be nice.

  • Onyx Blue

    Very nice VALVE !! Get cooking developers – let’s have this out ASAP

  • MowTin

    A thumbstick is better than a track pad. What if you play a game like Lucky’s Tale?

    • I agree.

      And Chronos, Edge of Nowhere, Thumper, etc.

    • Ybalrid

      For having used both the Vive controllers and the Oculus Touch, I can’t agree more. I find the trackpads awkward. But it looks like it’s the gimmick Valve put on every single controller they design ^^”

    • NooYawker

      Use a xbox controller… I don’t want a thumbstick on my VR touch controller. It gets in the way and touch controllers are designed for room scale games, thumbsticks don’t belong on room scale games.

      • Get Schwifty!

        Agree 100%!

  • I basically came up with 90% of the stuff in this controller roughly 15 years ago, but I can’t actually prove it to you guys here because apparently UploadVR won’t let me link to my own website that contains the info. Yet, I can link to any other site that contains info, and presumably someone other than me could link to me site, seeing as it’s just another site like all those others UploadVR allows me to link to.

    Suffice to say, If you look up “IGN predicting the Revolution” (go to page 6) and “Ahead of the Nintendo/NX curve, again” you’ll find the pages I’m talking about with the relevant examples.

    As I said in my post that the MOD didn’t see fit to allow: I should basically be rich by now–I’m totally skint right now.

    • David Rescott

      Cool story bro

    • NooYawker

      Should have patented it. But concepts and real products are very very far apart.

      • True, on both accounts.

        • NooYawker

          Your site is a little Spartan but I’ll give you some traffic 🙂

    • Jason

      Coming up with ideas is always the easiest part.

  • Kimberly Martin

    When companies give battery life numbers it tends to allways be in the maximum, so i’m guessing 2 1/2 hours, they really need to improve on this or provide rapid charging. You know 85% in 5 minutes its that last 5% that takes the time.

    Having purchased an oculus rift for the touch controllers, these will go someway towards providing a closer experience when playing rift experiences on revive.

    So lets talk about price? If these cost more than vives current controllers @ $135.00 each we are looking at $270 plus shipping so say $300 USD ($400 aussie dollars). The 2 x touch controllers and a rift cost currently cost $600, only $200 more and thats for a whole new headset with access to extra non vive games, an xbox controller and currently a $100 store voucher.

    I think to make these Knuckles affordable i’d like to see sold for $100 a set maximum. But i dont think so.

    • Spuzzum

      3 hours seems to be the max with the LEDs on the controllers. Both Vive and the newer Windows MR controllers are also 3 hours. The fact that the Touch lasts 30 hours on a single charge is rare. I suspect they’re strobing the infrared LEDs with a PWM signal to conserve battery life. Infrareds use a lot of power.

      • Popin

        The SteamVR controllers don’t have LEDs (other than the power/paring LED). The Knuckles prototypes do not either.

        • Spuzzum

          Well I did reply to this, but I guess I can’t add links. I found the teardown of the devices at ifixt(dot)com. The components I thought were surface mount IR LEDs.. around the ring of the Vive controllers, the Knuckles controllers, and even the headset itself, are actually IR sensors, not emitters. The lighthouses are what emit the IR light, which gets sensed by the controllers/headset. The exact opposite of the Rift, Touch controllers and sensors.

  • polysix

    Much better than touch and OG vive wands. Thank god they didn’t stop innovating.

    • Get Schwifty!

      Definitely be interesting to see how Oculuc responds with their next version of Touch. Not sure they beat the Touch in terms of pure ergonomics but anything will be better than the wands that’s for sure.

  • Mr Penguin (EleroGames)

    If its not cheaper than 100$ i’d just get the touch