Valve's new SteamVR Knuckles controllers that can track individual finger movement are featured in a new demo that was recently published on YouTube. The demo comes from Spicy Tanks developer Zulubo Productions and shows off finger-level VR interaction in a specialized setting. In the demo, a room with a Steam logo on a floor rug is full of random objects, with an anti-gravity machine in the corner to help spice things up. The finger control on show is so precise that the demonstrator is able to manipulate objects with two fingers by pinching them, and even spins a globe at different speeds with a various number of fingers involved. At one point, the author switches on finger collision point showing, giving the viewer an idea of how collision detection with fingers works. After the end of the main portion of the video, with strange objects and stardust floating everywhere, the camera cuts out, then cuts back in to catch the demonstrator throwing a dinner plate like a frisbee just because they can.
Valve unveiled the Knuckles controllers with little fanfare, inviting developers to join a program to help get the new peripheral off the ground before it ends up in, i.e. on the hands of the general public. Zulubo Productions was one of those developers and seems to be the first one to have posted up a demo of the new controllers' potential online for all to see. The controllers will reportedly be usable with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift through SteamVR, but there's no word on whether they can be used with mobile hardware in ecosystems like Google's Daydream and Samsung's Gear VR. Presumably, they'll be usable with the likes of RiftCat, should somebody have a VR-capable PC but no dedicated headset handy.
Valve's new controller does not have a commercial release date or pricing information available at the moment, but it's quite likely to be priced similarly to other full-featured VR controllers, though perhaps just a bit higher. While there are VR glove setups out there that feature finger sensors, the Knuckles controller opts for a strap attached to a traditional controller, coupled with a set of motion sensors in a bar over the user's fingers. Using this setup, the controller is able to track finger movement without finger contact, though there are pressure sensors on the main bar of the controller that can sense when a finger curls around them.