Thoughts on Oculus Touch

The Oculus Touch controllers seem like the input device we’ve been waiting for. With triggers for both your finger and hands, analog sticks, and face buttons, they appear competent enough to handle any action you might want to do in VR. Oculus described picking up a gun with the hand trigger and firing it with your finger. That sounds exciting and feels like it would be fun — I know because Survios had a similar mechanic for firing guns with the Hydras in their game Zombies on the Holodeck.

Announcing an input solution is a huge deal for VR developers because seeing hands in VR is a critical element of presence and incredibly important for interactive experiences. Today, the Razer Hydras are the only viable 6DOF controller for VR, but it’s very unreliable. The current slate of input options are a mess for devs right now — Leap Motion is great but not tactile, STEM has been delayed multiple times, Control VR is defunct, and we’re still waiting for Prior VR. We have been waiting for Oculus to announce a controller for years and, thankfully, it’s finally here.

I’m most excited about the array of sensors embedded in the controller that understand hand gestures like pointing and waving. Oculus recognizes the opportunity for social interaction in VR and developed hardware around the idea that we will want to communicate with friends, even if the software isn’t built yet.

Touch will ship after the Rift launches, instead of being bundled in with the goggles. Understandably, some in the community have concerns about input fragmentation. While the timing is unfortunate, I do not doubt that Oculus would have bundled Touch with the Rift if they could have. The Xbox controller is the best game controller ever designed and will work well with many types of VR experiences. My hunch is that Oculus will ship CV2 with Touch and most consumers will be none the wiser.

My biggest concern with Oculus Touch is occlusion. What happens to the tracking when you turn away from the IR camera? It seems weird to me that they would only work facing one direction, but I guess we’ll find out if that’s the case at E3.

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