there’s a lot of excitement all around valveUpcoming Handheld PC, Steam Deck. The Steam Deck will launch in December 2021 as a fully standalone device, however, it will be compatible with multiple docks, adapters, and controllers. This begs the question whether Valve will release its own Steam Deck controller similar to the Nintendo Switch’s Pro Controller. A newly published Valve patent indicates just that, as well as a very exciting new controller feature.
The patent, published on September 9, shows a graphic featuring a stripped-down Steam controller with two offset joysticks, a trackpad, and four controller buttons. Imagine the Xbox controller with the joystick on each side swapped to be low/high. The controller has two shoulder buttons on each side, as well as three buttons in the center. The lack of a D-pad is a curious choice, but Valve has shown confidence in its upper-left trackpad before the original Steam controller.
For the specific purpose of the patent, it is about a unique motion control detection feature. More specifically, it is a patent for a finger-recognition system that would allow finger movement to activate certain motion control features. For example, a tactile sensor that can sense the proximity of a user’s finger and use that data to display the controller user’s hand in various configurations in the game.
This type of feature is not entirely new. Virtual reality controllers use a similar feature. Placing fingers on multiple buttons in some games will force the player’s in-game hands into fists, while removing them from the buttons will open the hand or extend the fingers. Then pressing the button can create in-game hand gestures.
However, it seems that what Valve wants to do is a lot more in-depth. Certainly hand gestures are unlikely to be implemented. Rather, a more useful function would be, as opposed to a button push. For example, holding down a button opens a menu, but removing a finger from the same button can also open a different menu. Or, perhaps more simply, pressing a button uses a basic type of grenade, but can be augmented for different types of grenades depending on the position of the other finger.
The most important problem with Steam Controllers is that games made for PC don’t always work with the controller. Valve, to its credit, made a better controller for the PC experience. Unfortunately it wasn’t a huge success, but that doesn’t mean Valve stopped its efforts. This new patent could offer a glimpse at the next iteration of Valve’s plans for the Steam Controller and Steam Deck.
valveSteam Deck will be released in December. No new Steam controllers have been announced.
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