The VR hype is huge right now with many of the most popular brand name companies getting into the mix, but the controllers seem to be getting extra treatment for this kind of console. This is because, with VR, there is a need to add a sense of realism to the game, which means that people want to feel what they are touching in the gaming world.
A Feel of Touch
There are a few aspects that go into getting a controller that will provide a sense of touching objects in the VR world, so let’s break it down: Controller Dependency, Finger Tracking, and Pressure Sensitivity. The first is Controller Dependency, which means that the controller is dependent on your hand to know what to do. If you need to drop an object in the VR world, your initial reaction would be to just let go of it, which might result in a costly replacement and is the primary reason why some controllers come with wrist straps. In reality, you are not always grabbing an object, but you are with a controller. Therefore, to remove the Controller’s Dependency, a controller must be readily available without being held all the time. The second, which has already been accomplished by the Oculus Touch, is Finger Tracking. You don’t push a button by sticking your fist on it, you use a single finger. The last is pressure sensitivity, which is what you feel when you grab a hilt or a string.
What can be seen in the New Valve Controllers?
The new controllers fulfill two out of the three; controller dependency and finger tracking. This is mostly speculation, but the controller looks like it has three sensors on the front, which would allow for 180 degrees of finger tracking. It also looks like it has an additional sensor for the thumb. The bar on top of the hand and the wrist strap removes the need to fully grab the controller. It also looks like there are more sensors on the bar itself. The last of the three looks like it might be implemented, but the pad in the center of the controller looks like it is a mouse pointer sensor like those found on laptops and the handle looks as though some type of vibration mechanism might be used. It could be possible that they replace the handle with a more mesh-like feel, but it is unlikely.
The controllers look like they might be the next step towards full immersion VR, but they are still in a prototype phase. This means that feedback from those who got to hold the technology and those who speculate on the technology may have sway over the final design. Either way, it looks like a good step in the direction for VR.