A modular controller will allow you to upgrade components over time or add accessories at a more affordable cost than the cost of a completely separate controller. It’s a smart idea to design for upgrades rather than trying to fit components around an unforgiving, single-purpose device.
After recycling several broken Valve Index controllers under warranty, Rob Cole began to worry. e-waste. The cost to repair a VR controller quickly approaches the cost of a brand new device, and this is more often than not how warranty issues are resolved. Cole will send the broken controller back for recycling and a shiny new controller will arrive from Valve.
That sounds good, but the cost of sending two whole controllers to repair a broken trigger is also a waste. Cole decided to create a new SteamVR controller that could be repaired, and the modular design was an added advantage that made it even more attractive.
The first version, Project Caliper, is described 2021 blog post by VR consultant SkarredGhost. It was quite popular and Cole was very keen to continue the project. Unfortunately, it was discontinued early due to potential legal issues.
A whole year has passed and Cole has not been idle. Since then, there has been a new controller design Posted by SkarredGhost, showing a unique prototype that looks even better than before. The core known as Project Modular is comprised of a Tundra SteamVR hardware development kit (HDK) and a rechargeable lithium battery that drives the mission-critical motion tracking process.
As with any controller, various buttons, switches, haptic motors, cables and connectors complete the design. The unique aspect of the Project Module controller is that it is not encased in a hard plastic shell that makes access to all components nearly impossible. Instead, there are two rails that provide structure, and the hand grip wraps around for comfort.
You won’t be able to order one this year, but Cole has already gone through several prototype iterations and is pretty happy with the mechanics, comfort and accessibility. However, there is more work to be done. The next big challenge is finding a replacement for the hard-to-order Tundra HDK.
Cole is calling for a new open standard for XR controllers and is eager to collaborate with like-minded developers and companies. For more information, contact Cole via his website, Immersion mechanics.