Vive ‘Knuckle’ controllers promise five-finger gestures

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.

22 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Until they upgrade the price for VR entry below, say, $500, I’m just not able to join in the silly nonsense.

    There’s too much shovelware and not enough substance. And it’s too damn expensive.

    • Sakkura says:

      The Oculus Rift costs $499…

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        Until you get the controllers

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Is it? With the controllers? And the extra sensors people say you need?

        Is the PSVR $499 with the PS4 to run it?

        I’m legitimately asking, not trying to be a dick here. If I could get a Rift with the basically required attachments for that little, I’d give it some thought.

        • Sakkura says:

          Not with controllers (that’s $598 combined).

          The extra sensor is not NEEDED per se. But very useful if you want to do roomscale stuff.

          The PSVR is technically $399 on its own, but that’s if you not only have a PS4 (or PS4 Pro), but also the Move controllers and camera. You can get a PSVR bundle for $499, still needs the actual console on top.

    • Shuck says:

      Sadly this wont help with the lack of substance – it’ll just further fragment the already fragmented VR market. If a developer is counting on users having this, their game will really have to be cheaply developed, because the user base will be so small.

      • Sakkura says:

        If/when the Knucles controller is widely adopted, it would at least allow developers to address the capabilities that the Touch and Knuckles controllers have in common. So that’s at least some progress.

        • Shuck says:

          It’s a big “if.” And even combining users of the two controllers into a single user group, it’s still not big. PSVR is where the audience is, so bigger games are going to be targeting that sort of controlling hardware.
          Maybe with the next generation of VR we’ll more consistently start seeing this sort of controller, but it might have lost its audience by that point…

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Unfortunately their motherboard doesn’t have the right inputs for $500.

  2. NarcoSleepy says:

    I’ve only ever needed one finger for gestures.

  3. brucethemoose says:

    I wonder when tactile feedback will make it into these controllers. Tracking your fingers is one thing, but pushing back with pressure would be amazing.

  4. beawereofthedog says:

    Well, this has been a sort of thing for a while now. With the implementation by Leap Motion, you shouldn’t even need the clumsy controller in your hand.

    • Sakkura says:

      Leap Motion has some serious limitations though. These controllers have more advantages than disadvantages vs. the Leap Motion.

  5. wisnoskij says:

    I hope they reinforce the middle finger button, I have a feeling that one will get the most use.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    You realize this means we can start legitimately appending “…and Knuckles” to PC games.

  7. DoomBroom says:

    Generation 2 VR is gonna be one hell of a upgrade from this generation with all the recent improvements in VR tech I’ve been reading about. And these Knuckle controllers looks like an awesome upgrade from the Vive Wands.

    Gen1 is still great for what it is though. I can’t imagine going back to a world without VR anymore. Watching people playing first person games on a screen looks ridiculous and awkward to me now. Much better to be inside the game and feel that I’m there in person.

    • ooshp says:

      I’ve started referring to all those people as “flatscreeners”, to be uttered with similar contempt to “flat-earthers”. Those poor, directionless flatscreeners.

  8. Seafoam says:

    Just give me the power glove. Yesterdays dreams made reality today.

  9. Ross Angus says:

    … virtual realitea

    *flips table*

  10. rubmon says:

    This should flop even faster than those so called ergonomic keyboards that no one used

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