Valve is working on a new SteamVR controller for the HTC Vive that will allow users to handle virtual objects more naturally. Although the company isn’t making any announcements yet, a prototype was shown to attendees at the Steam Dev Days conference, currently underway in Seattle, and naturally images are being shared over Twitter.
The controller is a departure from the current wand-style unit that needs to be firmly gripped at all times, and more akin to Oculus’ Touch controllers which can be held even with fingers open to a certain extent. As shown by some of the videos being posted, the controllers will be able to track and replicate hand movements and finger articulation.
The controller appears to be wrist-mounted so it can be held with the hand fully open. This is just a prototype, however, and the final design could change. Speaking to Kotaku, Valve's Doug Lombardi said it is "gathering feedback on the design prototype at this point.”
Valve also hinted that new Lighthouse base stations are to be revealed sometime in 2017. These base stations are what make tracking objects in the virtual world possible though an array of LEDs that flash non-visible light up to 60 times per second, which is captured by the sensors. The technology was open sourced to third-party hardware developers during the summer so others can make Lighthouse-tracked devices.
As TechCrunch puts it, Valve wants the Lighthouse standard to be as “ubiquitous as wi-fi,”, and so far as many as 300 partners are building Lighthouse-tracked devices.
Valve shared the some SteamVR statistics too. The company said that the online store now serves up more than 600 titles dedicated to virtual reality, which are supported by the HTC Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset, with 1,000 new registered VR users each day.