Valve has unveiled "a different kind of gamepad," which they are calling the Steam Controller. It features two circular trackpads, complimented by a touchscreen in the middle.
"Driven by the player’s thumbs, each one has a high-resolution trackpad as its base. It is also clickable, allowing the entire surface to act as a button." Valve explains. "The trackpads allow far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers. Steam gamers, who are used to the input associated with PCs, will appreciate that the Steam Controller’s resolution approaches that of a desktop mouse."
The company are also claiming that they've been able to "fool" older games that require a keyboard and mouse, with a device that's nothing like either of them. This controller will be near-identical to the one packaged with the Steam Machines beta.
It also features what Valve are calling a "a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback." Thanks to the use of dual linear resonant actuators, essentially a pair of small electromagnets attached to the trackpads, they're able to provide a wide variety of force feedback and have greater control over the "frequency, amplitude and direction of movement." And with 16 buttons mapped symmetrically, the controller is friendly for both left and right-handed users.
The central touchscreen is also clickable (will not be available in the beta version, unfortunately), and is in place to stop you always looking at the gamepad. Interacting with it will bring up an overlay on the TV screen, so you can use the functions without distraction.
Much like the openness of SteamOS, the Steam Controller is also "designed from the ground up to be hackable," Valve says. "We plan to make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering. We can’t wait to see what you come up with." It will be interesting to see just what people do with this.
This is the final of three announcements from Valve, showing their intent to take on the Living Room with Steam. First it was SteamOS, followed closely by Steam Machines, but do you think they have a winning formula?
Let us know in the comments.