Valve has been keeping a lot of the information on the upcoming upgrade to the HTC Vive controllers to themselves so far. Though we do have some information on what the new Knuckles Controllers will look like and how they will behave, full details will need to wait until they get a commercial release. The Knuckles Controllers feature an advantage over the standard HTC Vive wand controllers in that they have individual finger tracking.
Knuckles Controllers Launch and Price
The Knuckles controllers have yet to see a commercial release, so a price point for the devices has not yet been established. Only developments kits have been sent out so far, and Valve has yet to announce an official launch date.
How to Use the Knuckles Controllers
For those fortunate enough to have one of the Knuckles Vive controller sets, first you will need to pick up the controllers and adjust the strap so it sits comfortably. The Knuckles controllers then need to calibrate for the finger tracking to work, which involves holding the controller with the index finger resting on the trigger while the thumb is on the touch pad, fingers touching the sensors for one second, then releasing. Valve says the commercially released versions will not need this calibration.
Those who own a Knuckles controller will also need to navigate to the Tools menu in the Steam client to activate Steam VR in Beta in order to use the Knuckles controllers at present.
Apps and Games Compatible with Knuckles Controllers
Valve is planning to offer a feature which emulates the HTC Vive wand controllers, so previously available software should be able to work with the Knuckles controllers. At present, one of the few apps that offers full functionality for the Knuckles Vive controller is Steam VR Home, which if it detects a user has the Knuckles controllers, will automatically upgrade the user avatar from three fingers to five. It has not yet been established how many other upcoming applications and videogames are planning to make use of the full functionality of the upcoming controllers.
Long-Term Applications of the Knuckles controllers
Its clear the Valve expect the Knuckles controllers to be the ‘next evolution’ of the HTC Vive motion controllers, and will likely be pushing developers to include the finger-tracking ability in future software. How well the user base responds to this remains to be seen, though early indications of the ergonomics and usability of the Knuckles controller have been positive.