If you read my article on Oculus VR’s alliance with Microsoft, you’re aware that a consumer model of the Rift will ship with an Xbox One controller. While this is ideal for a number of games in development for the Rift, other games require a different kind of hardware to achieve the intended level of immersion.
Oculus VR isn’t run by anybody with enough ignorance to overlook this, though. In a recent blog post and in a press conference from the 11th of this month, Oculus VR and co-founder Luckey Palmer made clear their acknowledgement of the need for a different kind of controller and introduced what they call the Oculus Touch. The model demonstrated was a prototype specifically labelled the “Half Moon” that can be seen in the pictures below.
This controller comes in two parts with symmetrical designs: “like your own hands,” to quote the blog post. Each part features the semi-circle that inspired the prototype’s title lined with nodes that make up “the same IR LED constellation tracking system we use in the Rift for precise, low-latency, 6-DOF tracking,” to further quote Oculus VR’s blog. Each half of the controller also features an analog stick, two face buttons, and two triggers: one meant for your index finger and one for the rest of your hand, dubbed the “hand trigger”. Each component will have a wrist strap to avoid accidents involving impaling walls and appliances, and boast what is known as “haptic feedback”.
In case you don’t know, haptic feedback is the capability of a piece of input hardware (aka a controller) to provide tangible, feelable resistance to the player’s inputs that mimic realistic physical interaction. In laymen’s terms, the controllers vibrate and the buttons are a bit harder to push to make it feel as though you are really grabbing an object or pulling a trigger.
Last, but not least, is the controllers’ ability “to recognize a set of communicative hand poses like pointing, waving, and giving a thumbs-up.” This and the introduction of haptics are the features that will bring immersion to a new peak with the coming years.
The performance of all this new VR hardware will greatly impact the way the gaming industry approaches the future, and is worth following. Keep a close eye on how this all plays out, as it will impact every gamer in the long term.