Virtual reality goggles have made a lot of headway over the past year. From the final design of the Oculus Rift to the HTC Vive system, we have a pretty clear picture of what virtual worlds will look like in the years to come. Until now, the focus has been on visual feedback — not manual input. This week, Oculus revealed the Oculus Touch, a set of controllers designed to interact with virtual worlds in three dimensions. This is a sign of progress that is far more pronounced than it may seem.
“A console controller or a mouse and a keyboard can’t quite cut it. Oculus Touch presents a new world entirely. It’s a bold step forward for the future of virtual reality.“
The Oculus Touch is a set of two mirrored devices, one for each hand. They’re completely wireless, and provide 1:1 motion tracking to precisely place the user’s motions within the virtual context. In other words, if you move your hands a few millimeters with Oculus Touch, your virtual hands will respond accordingly.
The split design of the Oculus Touch is a virtual necessity. A fixed controller held by two hands wouldn’t allow for free exploration in software environments. By splitting the controller, a user can interact with the software the same way they’d interact with the world. It’s quite simple in execution, but deeply valuable for virtual exploration.
Oculus introduced Oculus Touch at the end of a press conference this week in Los Angeles. They were presented as an afterthought, a closing mention in a longer event that focused on the release model of the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles. To us, this is the main event. It’s the first look at how we may interact with virtual worlds. A console controller or a mouse and a keyboard can’t quite cut it. Oculus Touch presents a new world entirely. It’s a bold step forward for the future of virtual reality.