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Vive 'Knuckle' controllers promise five-finger gestures

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As much as I still have brief giggles with the occasional VR toy, it’d take something close to a miracle to make me spend more large sums of money on anything goggle-related any time soon. Where once I might have gazed at details about Valve’s upcoming second generation motion controller for the Vive with covetous awe, now I stop short at “huh, that’s kinda cool, I guess.” The ‘Knuckles’ controllers are Valve/HTC’s riposte to the Touch handheld gizmos for the Oculus Rift, and read like a meaty upgrade from the responsive but limited wands that ship with the Vive. Most importantly: these suckers can purportedly track which each finger on each of your hands is up to.

Decent details on the Knuckles have made their way into the world thanks to assorted guides on the official Vive dev community pages. Aesthetically, these things look a little like the knuckleduster design of the Oculus Touch (hence the name, presumably), but eschew thumbsticks in favour of a large circular thumbpad, reminiscent of those on the Steam Controller (I know some people dig those, but I hated mine so much that I eBayed it a few months later).

The large circular protrusion and vaguely Combine-like design also maintains the design sensibilities of the Vive and its original controllers.

The big deal, of course, is that these things read what your five fingers are doing, apparently including to what extent they’re pointing or clenching – and five-fingered gestures will then be shown on the player-character’s hands within a Knuckles-supporting game or application. Or, indeed, one- or two-fingered gestures. Personally, I demand full support for the wanker gesture.

Which is all very well, but! The Touch could replicate a couple of fingers, but so far I’ve only seem limited meaningful uses of them. Five fingers certainly increases the potential to ‘grab’ VR-world items, but there’s still an inherent tactility hurdle to jump before we can go Full Lawnmower Man here. It’s easier to imagine gesturing benefits in social applications, such as raising a pinkie finger while daintily drinking your cup of virtual realitea.

An interesting development in VR-land, though I would say that it’s merely a piece of the puzzle that’s needed to bust this stuff back into must-have territory, rather than a full solution in and of itself. Lose the cable! Increase the pixels! And so on and so on.

No price/release date for the Knuckles yet, but you can burrow into these dev guides to find out all sorts of deep technical detail.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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