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Valve's SteamVR "Knuckles" controller tracks all five fingers

Dev kits are now shipping for a new VR controller that emphasises hand presence

Valve is now shipping dev kits for the "Knuckles" controller it first showed at Steam Dev Days last year.

"You or your company will receive the Knuckles Dev Kit directly from Valve," the company said in a guide published yesterday, which detailed the SteamVR controller's new features.

The most intriguing of these is a greater sense of "hand presence" than the Vive's wand controllers allowed. An adjustable strap allows the user to open their hand without dropping the controller, and all five fingers are individually tracked. This opens up new possibilities for interaction in virtual spaces, including but not limited to making the devil horns sign at your friends.

The Knuckles controller dev kit has a three hour battery life, and takes one hour to reach full charge through a USB micro-B connector. Valve has suggested that recipients of a dev kit make SteamVR Home their first port of call, as a way of testing the new functionality.

Knuckles debuted as a prototype at Steam Dev Days in October last year, where it caused a stir among the event's attendees. One developer, Eva Hoerth, said it removed the need to "think about input."

"All I had to do to grab an object was reach out and grip, no buttons required," she said. "If I wanted to throw, all I had to do was pull back and release, as 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."

There are also similarities to the Oculus Touch controller, which was designed on the belief that the need to grasp a wand controller at all times compromised the sense of hand presence. The Touch controllers also have finger-tracking, though not to the same extent as Valve's Knuckles.

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Matthew Handrahan

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Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.

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