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Wearable Tech

Valve's Knuckles EV2 controller will let you squeeze objects in games

Valve tells CNET it'll announce shipping info "soon."

VR still has some major problems to solve -- like the pesky cord that often tethers you to a PC. 

But Valve, the company that's working on three full-length VR games (you may also know it from a little thing called Steam), might soon solve the problem of being able to naturally pick up, hold and squeeze objects with your hands in virtual reality. 

Today, the company revealed its near-final Knuckles EV2 VR controllers, almost exactly a year after the previous Knuckles revision, and Valve tells CNET the company will announce a ship date soon.

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What makes Knuckles any better than the wands that come with, say, an HTC Vive VR headset? I'm glad I used a rhetorical crutch to make you ask -- they're covered with force sensors (pressure) and capacitive sensors (touch) that tell games when and how you're gripping, squeezing and pinching virtual objects.

The above video? You've never done anything quite like that in a game before, I bet.

And importantly, the Knuckles have an integrated strap so you can let go of virtual objects without the controllers falling out of your hands.

At the risk of sounding too excited: just look at these hands!

Valve says the latest version adds a thumbstick and a big trackpad button with a force sensor underneath, plus more force sensors in the grip and an updated strap to make it more comfortable for a wider range of hand sizes.

The new controller revision currently has a six-hour battery life and takes an hour and a half to charge with a USB-C cable. No word yet on how much they'll cost or when they'll ship, but you can probably expect SteamVR partners like HTC (and maybe LG, if it ever brings its headset to market) to ship new headsets with them included.

One last video you might appreciate: Here's the Portal-themed Moondust demo that Valve built specifically to show game developers what these controllers are capable of.

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