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Valve Adds Index Controllers, Physics Overhaul To The Lab


Valve is finally adding Index Controller support to its popular VR showcase, The Lab. But that’s not all.

The SteamVR creator today announced The Lab Hands-On Update.  The Lab was a free experience that launched alongside the HTC Vive in 2016. Set in Valve’s Portal universe, the app featured several different minigames and experiences designed to showcase the potential of VR. To this day it remains one of the most polished and enjoyable VR games on Steam.

Hands-On is the app’s first major update in nearly three years. Headlining the update is support for SteamVR’s new skeletal input system. Yes, that means The Lab now includes full support for the Index Controller’s finger-tracking, but it also allows you to reassign actions on any given controller to find a configuration that works for you.

Moreover, Hands-On overhauls The Lab’s physics and interactions. Valve says that nearly every object in the game now physically reacts to your hands. That means you can’t freely pass your hands through, say a coffee mug. Instead, the object will be pushed by your hand as if it were a physical object. Items can, of course, also be picked up and toyed with in all the ways you’d expect (including, according to Valve, being smashed).

Elsewhere Hands-On also includes support for Steam Audio, bringing in better spatialized sounds. Valve is also promising optimization improvements, upgrading the game to a modern version of its engine. As such, the game will be able to run in higher resolutions. Better yet, support for different frame rates (other than 90 Hz) has been added. That means Index owners with beefy rigs should be able to enjoy it in 120 Hz.

Updated support for The Lab is welcome, but we’re still waiting on news about Valve’s flagship VR game. Last we heard it was coming this year, so hopefully we’ll hear more about it soon.

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