Did $599 seem like a deal for Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset that had tech tongues wagging this March? Then you won’t mind slapping down $199 more for Facebook-chaperoned Oculus VR’s long anticipated second act, Oculus Touch. The controls will be available for preorder on October 10 and ship on December 6, the company announced at the Oculus Connect conference on Thursday.
Touch is Oculus’ name for a pair of wireless motion control hoops that let you interact with virtual experiences more naturally. For the past six months, the Rift has only supported gamepad controls, a serious deficit when contrasted with the flexibility afforded by being able to use your arms and hands more freely and directly with HTC’s Vive, and now Sony’s PlayStation VR. (To say nothing of what it does to support ambulatory, Holodeck-like interaction in the Vive’s case specifically.)
For $199, the new Touch controls will include two games, VR Sports and The Unspoken, as well as the requisite second sensor (the Rift already ships with one). Some of us were able to test-drive that two-sensor setup at an offsite Oculus event in San Francisco last March, and it seemed to work pretty well. At that point the two sensors sat parallel to but at a distance from each other.
If you want so-called “room scale” virtual reality, you’ll have to drop another $79 for a third sensor, which, all other things being equal, would seem to put Oculus at a pricing disadvantage ($879, all in). Contrast with Vive’s $800 package deal, which includes dual wands and lighthouse room scale tracking sensors. That, and as well as Oculus Touch was working back in March, it’s baffling why Oculus took this long to bring Touch to market.