After Oculus announced that the Rift will ship with a wireless Xbox One controller at its press event today, founder Palmer Luckey took the stage to talk about Oculus' own controller. "One of the first things that a lot of people do [in VR] is they reach out into this virtual world," said Luckey. "We wanted to create an input device that actually lets people reach out, that lets those people interact with objects in the virtual world."
Luckey then brought out a prototype Oculus Touch called 'Half Moon.' The wireless controllers are designed to enable a variety of input methods, including "hand presence," "manipulation," and "communicative gestures."
The controllers look a bit like the handles of a DualShock 4 were ripped off, with a neat circle of plastic added. Though they feature some traditional inputs—an analog stick, analog trigger, and two buttons on each—the goal according to Luckey is to make Touch an effortless experience, so that rather than thinking about how controller buttons map into the game, the user can interact with the VR environment naturally. There's also a "hand trigger"—it was a little hard to tell what part of the controller Luckey was referring to, but he mimed picking up a gun to demonstrate it.
"We wanted to deliver hand presence," said Luckey, "the sense of feeling, as though your virtual hands are actually you real hands."
Update: We've received further clarification from Oculus VP of product Nate Mitchell. Oculus Touch is coming in the first half of 2016, but isn't launching with the headset, which will ship in Q1 2016. It will be sold separately "shortly after" the Oculus Rift launches.
Mitchell also explained more about how the controllers work. "We have a matrix of sensors inside Oculus Touch that can actually get a sense of where your finger is," he said. "It's relatively basic in terms of—we're not talking about knowing exactly where all your fingers are—but for the basic gestures that Palmer talked about, whether we're talking about pointing, or the hand trigger that we have to like pick up things, and that sort of stuff... it enables a pretty cool set of hand poses that do make it really effortless to pick up stuff in the world, toss it, and do those kinds of actions that you can't do with a gamepad."
The gestures, says Mitchell, are currently limited to the index finger and "some thumb" in the Half Moon prototype.
You can see the demonstration at the end of the livestream, which is archived here. Below is a marketing shot, and some photos Wes snapped from the event.
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Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.