Etee: finger input controllers start shipping
The first buyers should soon receive their Etee controllers with finger input. Unlike the index controllers, they do without key inputs completely.
The Kickstarter project Etee is supposed to enable more natural hand movements. The soft, touch- and pressure-sensitive plastic handle is also equipped with proximity sensors.
The hands feel a bit of passive counterpressure when gripping – similar to a bicycle handlebar. Unlike the DualSense triggers for the PS5 and PSVR 2, there is no motor to provide active resistance when squeezing. On the other hand, a small trackpad is installed, which can be used to set the walking direction in games, for example.
Finger tracking controller with passive resistance
A successful Kickstarter campaign ended on May 11 with a sum of around 106,000 euros. The originally planned sales start in December 2020 could not be met by the manufacturer “TG0”. However, delivery now seems imminent.
Within two months, 400 devices should be delivered to Kickstarter supporters, according to the company. Later this year, TG0 plans to ship more to service pre-orders.
Stephen Prior, community and business development manager, explained the background of the recent delay. As is often the case these days, problems in the supply chain for individual components have led to delays, but these are currently being worked through.
Prior praises the patience of the community in this context. Artists and users of the social app VRChat in particular have shown great interest, he says. Finger tracking could enable sensitive modeling or expressive body language in virtual reality.
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Etee: SteamVR tracking with surcharge
The standard version of the Etee Controller for around 233 Euros only has 3DOF sensors integrated. Those who want to play SteamVR titles have to buy the version for around 303 Euros (“EteeControllers SteamVR”). Only this version offers the full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) for Vive, Index and Co.
Initially, the developers still mounted clunky Vive trackers on the top of the controllers. In the meantime, they have been replaced by narrower “tracking tubes” and are included in the premium model.
Since the controllers do not have buttons, they simulate inputs in SteamVR titles using gestures. They can be configured along with the touch intensity. How this works in practice was demonstrated by the community manager in September 2021. While playing Half-Life: Alyx, for example, he shot the touchpad with a thumb press.
With his outstretched index finger, he aimed directly at distant objects. To collect them, he then tilted his wrist upward, similar to conventional VR controllers.
Back in May, TG0 explained on Kickstarter that especially the expensive SteamVR version had suffered from component supply issues. Both versions can be pre-ordered on the official Etee controller website. Accessories are also available there – for example, a USB dongle that recognizes Vive trackers or body trackers from Tundra.