Contrasting "traditional gamepads," Valve's peripheral uses two trackpads, rather than the dual-analog setup common to consoles. Balancing the lack of physical sticks, Valve's controller uses haptic feedback, "allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement."
The controller additionally features a touch-enabled surface with a high-resolution screen. The screen can also be clicked as a button. When a player taps the touch screen, its display overlays on top of the game itself, eliminating the need to look down at the controller during gameplay. According to Valve, "The screen allows an infinite number of discrete actions to be made available to the player, without requiring an infinite number of physical buttons."
Valve's peripheral announcement follows up on the recent unveiling of SteamOS, a dedicated Linux-based operating system capable of streaming Windows and Mac games from Steam to a user's television. Valve later revealed that its Steam Machines hardware lineup would incorporate SteamOS, noting as part of its beta signup that pre-production units are bundled with a unique controller.
"We set out with a singular goal: bring the Steam experience, in its entirety, into the living-room," Valve explains. "We knew how to build the user interface, we knew how to build a machine, and even an operating system. But that still left input - our biggest missing link. We realized early on that our goals required a new kind of input technology - one that could bridge the gap from the desk to the living room without compromises. So we spent a year experimenting with new approaches to input and we now believe we've arrived at something worth sharing and testing with you."
A detailed look at Valve's controller, with sample key bindings, is below.