We were all expecting it: after all the hype generated by Oculus technologies at Oculus Connect 3, HTC and Steam had to react somehow.

We didn’t have to wait that much: at Steam Dev Days, Steam has announced great news: a new base station system for Vive and a new type of VR controllers!

First of all, they announced a new partnership with Nitero, to produce a wireless version of the Vive. Nitero is working on a streaming solution of virtual reality from / to a PC, so that virtual reality can be rendered at high-quality on a powerful VR-ready PC and then streamed to a wireless Vive headset, obtaining super-VR with no damn cable. If you remember well, Vive already partnered with Intugame for a similar solution: so it seems that HTC is working with more than a company to obtain a wireless version of its device. Nitero claims that this wireless headset runs at 60Hz, but honestly I wouldn’t like to be there in that wi-fi debugging with terabytes streaming… I think that it would be like living inside a microwave! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

Then Vive tried to answer to the Oculus announcement of Touch. Touch proved to be a much better crafted controllers than Vive ones, due to better ergonomics and fingers pose detection. Seems that Vive produced more simple controllers to go out on the market first and this move proved to be successful, but now it finds itself behind Oculus. There is not a new version of the controllers ready, so they decided to make some vaporware and show some new prototype. This prototype is very interesting, because it’s ergonomic and detect finger pose: so, it’s like Oculus touch but with a different form factor, optimized for grasp and release actions.

Some super-attentive user on reddit detected that this shape reminds one of the ones that Oculus has tried and then discarded. So a question pops in my mind: “Why Oculus has discarded it and Vive not?”.

We don’t know anything else about this controllers: they made some influencers try it, but didn’t make a press announcement or something like that. My impression is that this is a simple and effective marketing move just to show people that HTC Vive will not be worse than Oculus CV1 and that they’re working hard to make a new version of controllers that will be better than Touch. We don’t know if effectively next Vive VR controllers version will be like this one: maybe they’ve just shown us something they’ve experimenting on. But this was a great move because today everyone (me included) is talking about this! So, kudos to Steam for this move!

New steam vr controllers
The sensors on the back of the hand detects the fingers pose, while inside the hand there are buttons and sliders to control virtual objects (credit of this image to UploadVR)

I’m quite excited by seeing this new advancements in technologies and I hope the best for VR, both Oculus and Vive!