Oculus Touch can now bring room-scale VR to Oculus Rift
Oculus just updated its in-development Oculus Touch controllers to support room-scale VR setups
Oculus Rift's companion controllers Oculus Touch have just had a major improvement, finally allowing Oculus developers and users to enjoy the benefits of Vive-style room-scale virtual-reality environments.
The Oculus Rift currently supports only one tracking camera to capture headset tracking. The same camera was also intended for use with the hand-tracking controllers, Oculus Touch. Now, though, Oculus has opened up tracking capabilities for up to four cameras, meaning large room-scale environments can be created.
While this technology hasn't filtered down to end users yet – and currently no Rift titles support it – it means we could see some HTC Vive-style games coming to Rift later this year once Touch launches. Interestingly, as Valve's SteamVR platform supports Rift and room-scale development, SteamVR devs can already make use of the update to build their games. The addition of extra cameras for tracking should also help reduce the occlusion issues the Rift currently faces, losing tracking if people turn their heads too far away from the camera's tracking range.
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has talked about the potential for room-scale VR for a while now, but this is the first time we've seen any indication of the company looking into providing it.
9 things you need to know about the Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift has been seen as the poster boy for the virtual-reality revolution since its Kickstarter page went live back in 2012. The story of its founder, Palmer Luckey, was inspiring: a young boy so obsessed with the notion of virtual reality and virtual worlds that he began building his own headsets. Eventually, his love for VR turned into a career opportunity and then into Oculus.
But now that Oculus Rift headsets are in the wild, and demand is still outstripping supply, what is there to know about Oculus Rift? Obviously you'll be wondering how it stacks up against the HTC Vive and upcoming PlayStation VR, but there are lots of things any Oculus Rift-interested individual should know about the Facebook-owned headset.
1. There’s still a waiting list for Oculus Rift
Since its launch in April, it hasn't been easy to get hold of an Oculus Rift headset. There was an instant backlog when pre-orders opened in February, and even now you’ll wait over a month to get a headset once you order one.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said that the Rift should be with retailers shortly after its April launch, but that still hasn’t happened. We probably won’t see stores stocking Rift headsets for a while yet.
2. You’ll need a VR-ready computer, at the absolute minimum
Your Oculus Rift – or HTC Vive for that matter – can’t run on just any PC. While its low-end requirements should mean you only need to upgrade your graphics card to something a little beefier, the ideal rig should be future-proof enough to comfortably handle VR for the next few years.
You’ll need a minimum of an Intel i5-4590 (so a mid-2014 chip), 8GB of RAM, three USB 3 and at least one USB 2 port, Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer and an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 graphics card.
3. Rift isn’t going to be coming to Mac anytime soon
If you’re a Mac user waiting on Oculus to bring Mac support to Rift, don’t hold your breath. While both developer kits worked on Mac, the final Rift won’t and company creator Palmer Luckey doesn’t seem to be too bothered.
@janoc200 Linux support is on the roadmap post-launch, Mac support is on the roadmap post-decent Apple hardware release, whenever that is.
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) December 8, 2015
4. Oculus Touch is amazing but isn’t available yet
Unlike the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, Rift makes use of a standard Xbox One controller for playing games. However, Oculus also has something else up its sleeve: Oculus Touch.
Touch works like HTC’s Vive controllers, mapping your hand movements 1:1 in 3D space. It means you'll be able to interact with virtual worlds in a whole new way and, having been lucky enough to use them myself, I can tell you that they feel really good.
Unfortunately, they’re not out yet and won’t be for a little while yet. Sorry...
READ ALSO: This is how Sony sees the future of VR
5. Its specs are the same as the HTC Vive, but Vive feels better
Rift and Vive have identical spec sheets. Both have a resolution of 1,200 x 1,080 pixels per eye, a 110-degree field of view and a refresh rate of 90Hz. Rift has built-in headphones, but the Vive comes bundled with some if you don’t already have a pair.
In all honesty, despite the near-identical hardware, Vive just edges ahead of the Rift thanks to its brighter, higher-contrast display and sharper Fresnel lenses.
6. Oculus Rift games can work on HTC Vive
While unofficial, Rift-exclusive games from the Oculus Store can actually run on HTC Vive with little to no tweaking. Granted, the exploit is a tad questionable – especially since Oculus blocked it and then its creator circumvented their countermeasures – but it does open up a wealth of new games for those who opt for a Vive instead of Rift.
7. Rift is cheaper than Vive but more expensive than PlayStation VR
In the price wars, Oculus Rift sits in the middle at £500. While the HTC Vive is more expensive at £690, it will be interesting to see how much Oculus opts to price its Touch controllers when they launch.
The cheapest option, by far, is Sony’s PlayStation VR. If you already own a PlayStation 4, splashing £350 to get a VR headset isn’t much. What’s more, with a good deal, you could snap up a PS4 and PS VR bundle for less than the price of a HTC Vive and just a shade more than Rift.
8. Oculus Rift is, technically, capable of room-scale VR
Currently, Rift is only capable of seated or standing VR experiences. However, when Oculus Touch comes to market, Luckey sees no reason why Rift couldn’t become a room-scale headset.
Speaking on Reddit during an AMA session, the Oculus founder responded to a fan asking whether Oculus will get room-scale VR in the future. “[It is] impossible to say with certainty until all the final hardware is out there,” he wrote. “Game support depends on developers, but generally speaking, yes.”
9. Oculus games come with “intensity” ratings
One handy feature of the Oculus store – the place where you buy Oculus Rift-enabled games – is its “intensity” rating for game titles. This isn’t anything to do with how a game plays or its difficulty, but simply how comfortable an experience it is in VR. Some games have low-intensity ratings because the VR experience is smooth or doesn’t jostle you around too much. Others will have high-intensity ratings because they require you to be more comfortable with VR before you play – after all, nobody wants a device or game to make you sick.