Valve showing off next-gen HTC Vive prototype controller

Valve is showing off new Steam VR/HTC Vive controller prototypes at Steam Dev Days.

3 minutes & 55 seconds read time

Valve has teased something rather epic at its Steam Dev Days, without a major hype train beginning or anything official at all - they were showing off their new prototype Steam VR controllers.

Valve showing off next-gen HTC Vive prototype controller 01

The new controllers are not so unconventional, that I don't think you would be able to judge it until you tried it, just like all VR games and experiences. Valve's new Steam VR controller prototype is much smaller than the current HTC Vive controller, as it is a multi-part device that straps to the back of your hand, and your palm.

Valve showing off next-gen HTC Vive prototype controller 03

RoadtoVR explains that the new controllers are "not so much held as they are (optionally) gripped; a band hooking over the side of the user's palm connects the core of the controller to a sort of backhand gripper which appears to keep the controller attached to the hand even while it isn't being held".

The new controllers have 21 tracking sensors each, and mixed with the new approach to the design, we could have the next big shift in VR. It won't just be games, but adventure games where you have to find something in a room and open a drawer, the movement and dexterity used in twisting the knob (or they might go realistic and let you use a crowbar or the lamp on the table to wedge it open), is going to open up another door into a more 'realistic' and 'Matrix' style reality.

VR 2.0 almost, especially with Valve opening up its Steam VR tracking technology to the public.

Judging from the pictures, this is a leap forward for VR controllers. The interactions with the environment can allow for interacting within the VR world, right down to being able to grab a door knob, or throw a ball in VR without throwing the controller across the rooom because of the way they strap to your hand.

Valve showing off next-gen HTC Vive prototype controller 02

RoadtoVR adds: "that users can 'let go' of the controller while in use, and it stays attached to the hand. This allows virtual objects to be thrown with the aid of the natural muscle-memory of opening one's hand as they throw, an instinct that must be subdued with other controllers to save from throwing the controller clear across the room". Yes, now imagine that - a world where your TV and expensive or loved goods aren't damaged because you've thrown a controller around too fast, and it slips out of your hand.

The new prototype Steam VR controller reportedly goes between different states, with 'open hand' and 'gripped hand' modes, which is closer to your natural positioning with your own hands.

It seems as though Valve is 3D printing the new controller, with a trigger and trackpad with three face buttons surrounding it.

The Future

I said this before, but I'll begin here and then elaborate with: Valve's new step with Steam VR controllers is nearly like VR 2.0, especially with Valve opening up its Steam VR tracking technology to the public earlier this year. Many companies, developers and even normal people that will be discovered with talent in VR controllers and phsyical products - think of it like the App Store or YouTube, and how many people have made careers and built apps or channels into multi-billion dollar profits.

This is going to usher in new products like swords, guns, bats, and countless other devices you'll strap, wear or use in VR. Imagine sports games where you're set up outside with a wireless VR headset and next-gen tracking technology where you have a large playing space in your backyard. You could play countless sports with various accessories, maybe you'll attach some plastic guards to yourself for various contact sports, and varying bats for bat-related sports like baseball. Basketball is easy, as you could be playing in a real court or at home in the driveway - and in VR, be playing against Kobe, or Jordan, or President Obama.

Maybe you want to play Grand Theft Auto VR, where Rockstar and Take-Two will make another billion selling you IRLDLC (I'm not going to spell it out for you, Google is your friend) in physical form. Imagine a market with realistic, but obviously not real guns with proper recoil that could cost up to $500 each? Sure, they each won't sell 1 million, but we have a market filled with people who spend billions of dollars on in-game items. There is a market for real items, it just has to be done well enough - and the road Valve are traveling on with Steam VR tracking and controller technology, we're not far away.

I wish I was 10 years younger to be able to enjoy this in my early 20s, as this is really going to change everything. Once we have Apple step in, the world will take VR seriously. This is an inevitable path, but we didn't have smartphones in the way we do until Apple changed everything with the original iPhone. Apple will push big into wearable technologies like AR, VR and even MR - mixed reality.

Magic Leap is working on something that is said to be truly revolutionary, so much so that it's one of the most secretive companies in the world with anyone that tries it, or talks to the key staff under NDA, is absolutely blown away. It would be like hearing about the fountain of youth, but then actually seeing someone drink from it and you see right there in front of your eyes - they begin fading to a look that might be 1-2 years younger. Imagine then drinking the water and experiencing that feeling again. Magic Leap is meant to be some holy grail stuff. I'm boarding that hype train, people.


Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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