In the run-up to Half-Life: Alyx, TG0 is announcing a brand new VR controller concept that looks to offer more natural input methods without all the extra bulk that comes with the Valve Index controllers. TG0 is launching the etee funding campaign on Kickstarter, beginning April 1, but we’ll have to wait until the campaign launches to find out pricing and a scheduled delivery date.
While the Valve Index was the first commercial VR controller to offer full-finger touch inputs, TG0 is hoping its new smaller, lighter and more ergonomic button-free design will present a viable alternative to Valve’s own controllers. TG0 is setting etee apart from the pack by capitalizing on natural input, which means the only “traditional” input on the controller is the track pad on the top. The rest of the controller is filled with capacitive sensors that sense every movement of your hand, from the minor nuances of grip to the individual joints in your fingers, etee sense it all.
“VR games need a controller that moves beyond the stale, TV remote-like devices that are prevalent today. etee takes us away from binary button commands into a new world of gesture, grip and touch-based controls. It delivers richer, more mesmerising interactions: the experience gamers deserve.” etee designer Mick Lin
While early VR games relied on more traditional ABXY-type button inputs for interaction, modern VR games like Half-Life: Alyx feature far more natural and intuitive controls that are designed to be pick-up-and-play friendly, even for first-timers of VR. Removing the complications of buttons and joysticks drops the dexterity requirement that some people find challenging (or even physically impossible) and, instead, replaces them with inputs that humans use every single day: their hands. Similarly to the Valve Index controllers, etee has a brace that wraps around the back of your hands so you can let go of the controller without worrying about it flying across the room.
TG0 says etee is 60% lighter than the Valve Index controllers and it’s quite a bit smaller too, making these ideal controllers for games like Beat Saber, where the weight of the controller can play a huge part in how fast you can move. It also helps with longevity, too, as heavier controllers make it difficult to play in VR for long periods of time. The built-in rechargeable battery hooks up via USB Type-C port and is rated at 6-hours of usage, with a 16-hour standby time. It’s also water and dust proof, which makes cleaning the controllers significantly easier than other designs.
The videos provided by TG0 show Vive Trackers attached to the top of the controllers for full SteamVR-tracking capability. It’s not known whether this functionality will be built into the controllers at launch, or if this additional add-on will be a requirement for roomscale tracking on the final product. TG0 showcases a number of use-case scenarios for etee on its Kickstarter page though, not just VR, and the combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communication likely means they can be used on many different platforms, as well.