Valve Is Developing ‘Knuckles’ Controllers For Individual Finger Tracking In VR

Augmented and virtual reality is starting to take off now that we have computing hardware that is powerful enough to provide a compelling experience. However, interacting with a virtual environment can be a bit tricky if you don’t have the proper controllers to supplement your experience.

The Oculus Rift has its Touch controllers, and the HTC Vive has the Wand. Now, Valve is looking towards the next logical progression when it comes to VR controllers, which it calls “Knuckles”. Unlike other VR controllers, Knuckles can independently track all five of your fingers thanks to capacitive sensors embedded in the controller handle, face buttons and trigger buttons.

You can look at the diagrams below to see how your fingers correspond to the different parts of the controller:

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A soft strap wraps around your palm so that you are free to move your fingers without having to worry about dropping the controllers. Knuckles are able to measure small variances in the positions of your fingers as you extend them or grip the controller, which should allow for finer control and manipulation of objects within a virtual environment.

htc vive headset and controller
HTC Vive VR Headset and Controller

“Each finger axis returns a curl value between zero and one, where zero indicates that the finger is pointing straight out and one indicates that the finger is fully curled around the controller,” writes the team responsible for the Knuckles controllers.

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As for calibrating the device, it’s as simple as making sure that your hands are properly strapped to the Knuckles, and then closing your hands around the controller. Then, you open your hands for one second which should calibrate the device. The team goes on to explain:

Recalibrations will occur automatically over the course of a play session as you reach out to grab items, throw things, etc. This is both expected and necessary, as your skin capacitance will change over time. The intent is for the controller to adjust to these changes automatically after the initial calibration has been performed.

According to Valve, Knuckles (in prototype form) are currently being shipped to developers. It is unknown when the production versions will be available for the general public.

Tags:  STEAM, Valve, VR, steamvr, knuckles