Oculus Touch: use your hands in a virtual environment

When the Oculus Rift sparked our fascination with Virtual Reality in 2012 it was thought that this would be a purely visual medium.

People imagined the experience it promised as an option to watch video games or movies in a more exciting and immersive way, as it would give lifelong interactions a whole new feel.

At the time there was a range of controllers that mimicked movable virtual hands, such as the Razer Hydra, but years later motion controllers were able to reinvent the way in which Virtual Reality was used and thanks to the new Oculus TouchRift could become the VR system it was always meant to be.

This device, which went on sale on December 6 this year is Oculus’ way of playing catch-up, since the HTC Vive already had motion controls since early 2015, transforming the way people thought about VR.

Suddenly, the use of a gamepad for certain types of games was seen as unnecessary since you could use your own hands to control what was displayed on the screen. Motion controls turned out to be one of the best arguments for calling Virtual Reality a new medium.

Oculus unveiled the Touch a few months after the HTC Vive came out, but it wasn’t ready to ship alongside the Rift. Instead, an Xbox One gamepad was included in the package. This was all that the virtual reality agency had initially promised, but it was soon felt that it was not enough.

While the Rift’s design and hardware were very attractive, the Rift was relegated to second-class status after the official launch of the Vive, and then to third when the Playstation VR came out with a strong list of titles that could use both gamepad and motion control. With the release of Touch, this could change.

The bundle is a $199 value and includes a pair of controllers and a tracking camera, making it a slightly pricey addition to the Rift, which is priced at $599. Although somewhat expensive, this product would be the opportunity Oculus needs for the Rift to take its place as one of the most interesting and innovative Virtual Reality headsets.

What exactly is the Oculus Touch and how does it work?

Touch is simply a system of controllers that can emulate the movement of hands in a virtual environment, achieving an immersive and more natural experience.

This wireless device consists of a pair of remotes that work through a combination of buttons, motion controls and even finger tracking, being more accurate than other options on the market. Each of these has an analog joystick, two buttons on the top and two triggers (one for the index finger and one for the middle finger) that detect whether the person’s fingers are on them or not. Both are powered by AA batteries (one for each controller), giving you enough life to use them quietly for just over two weeks if used constantly. For motion tracking, two cameras that function as sensors are required. One of them comes in the Rift package and the other with the Touch. These need to be placed on a flat surface such as a desk or shelf, and placed at a distance of several feet (not too close, not too far away).

It is important that they are angled in order to have maximum space coverage to capture all movements.

You can get a third camera to get a 360-degree capture. The cameras use USB 3.0 ports, so if you don’t have enough, you should use an extension cable to connect them. If you want to experience Virtual Reality with the Rift and its motion controller the Oculus Touch, you will need a more or less powerful machine. Therefore, we advise you to check the minimum specifications before purchasing the product.