Some days ago, finally my Oculus Touch that I preordered some months ago have arrived… but I haven’t been able to try it thoroughly until today, when I played 2 hours with them. I’ll write here a short review about them and then I’ll write a more detailed one on our Immotionar website in the next days.
I’ll drop the bomb immediately: I did not fall in love with Oculus Touch. Now I’ll give fanboys the time to go at the end of this article and write bad comments about me saying that they want to kill me… have you done it? Ok, now I can go on happily :). Let me explain what I mean… I like both Oculus and Vive, so it is not a matter of brand…
I’ve tried Oculus Touch after having read tons of enthusiastic reviews talking about super-awesome controllers, true hand presence and magical finger tracking, so I think that my expectations were a bit too high. And then, you all know, I work with experimental setups at Immotionar, where we try to give the user full body presence and natural interactions. I started with VR in 2014 and tried everything that I could afford to try. To make me go nuts in VR you need something incredibly innovative. When I tried Vive i was surprised in seeing its tracking precision (but was not surprised by room-scale, since we already obtained it with Kinects); the same with Hololens and its stability.
Oculus Touch did not gave me anything super-new: they are VR controllers, like Vive ones; they are super-precise in tracking, like Vive controllers (if you install your tracking sensors correctly, otherwise you will see some tracking glitches); they have room-scale, like Vive; and they have finger tracking, like Leap Motion. So, I don’t see anything new. Furthermore, there is no true hands-presence, since there is absolutely no finger tracking… the controller just checks what triggers you are touching/pressing, to emulate your hand pose. That’s it… some cool euristhics based on touched buttons to emulate your hand pose. If you don’t touch any part of your controller with your thumb and then you move your thumb, the system has absolutely no idea on what your finger pose actually is. And for most fingers you have just some available fixed finger positions (e.g. opened vs closed). So, don’t get fooled by Oculus marketing: Touch give you no true hands presence, no exact finger tracking, no super natural interactions. Last point come by the fact that the controller just works on triggers… to catch an object and so close you virtual hand, you have just to push one trigger with your middle finger… and to open your hand, you have to open all fingers but keep closed the ring and little one (or you will just throw your controller away). You need some training before starting using them, to learn how you have to interact with the controllers. It’s not like Leap Motion where you can just make the natural gesture… here you have to follow the rules and push the right triggers with the right fingers. One thing that I didn’t like while playing the demos is that I did a lot of confusion between middle finger trigger and index finger one… I pressed the wrong trigger lots of time… and this again made me frustrated and broke the presence.
Because this is the truth: Oculus Touch controllers are CONTROLLERS. Are super-smart, super-awesome virtual reality controllers… but still CONTROLLERS. They are like the most awesome gamepads you have ever tried in virtual reality. If you consider them this way, you will find them really fantastic. With Vive controllers, you have two magic wands, with Oculus Touch you have the ability to use something that resembles your hand, to make a more natural interaction than with Vive. You can emulate having something on your palm, to cast spells, to point objects with your index finger. All this is currently impossibile with Vive or PSVR, so they’re cool since they enable a new kind of interactions in VR. And the plus-side above Leap Motion is that they can guarantee you a basic haptic feedback (with vibrations and stuff). When the emulation of hand pose is exact, Touch can give you a great sence of presence… but when this does not happen, presence is reduced, since the brain understands that you are not in the real world. Tracking stability is great, like with Vive controllers (maybe a bit less, since we all know that Vive room scale is the best on the market).
Obviously I don’t like having controllers in my hands: when you have to put on and off your headset, they are a nuisance…and this is even worse for Oculus environment, since Oculus has a mixed-mode setup (first on PC screen with Touch in your hands, then on the headset screen) and some apps require you to remove your headset to finish installing. So you have to handle your headset with the hands that are holding the Touch… and this is annoying.
I’ve played with some free games… and I’ve completely saturated my HD! Game that I loved the most has been Bullet Train… grabbing guns, dodging bullets and firing… wow, it is that kind of games that with room-scale and VR controllers are really awesome… you feel really inside the action! Then interaction is natural in this case, since you fire with guns using your index-finger trigger, like if you were holding a true gun! Really awesome… this little demo made me sweat and it is the one that made me say that Oculus with this new controller is truly cool.
Other demos that I liked have been First Contact (that is like a mega-tutorial for Oculus Touch and that starts after you’ve finished configuring your controllers) and The Unspoken (that is a fighting game with magical spells… seeing a fireball growing inside your hand palm is really astonishing). Of course the first thing you have to do once you have a pair of Touch is making your avatar inside Oculus Avatars!
After playing all this time I had a bit of dizziness… don’t know why, since I have VR legs… maybe my sensors setup was not optimal for tracking and so there was some problem in room-scale that lead me to sickness. This can be an issue.
One last point about design: as always, Oculus has made a great work on design and comfort… so the controllers are really comfortable and well-crafted. This will surely not disappoint you.
Just to summarize: Oculus Touch are awesome VR controllers and if you have an Oculus CV1 you have to buy them, because without these controllers, you can’t experience true VR with Oculus Rift. But be careful that they are not a super-natural-hand interaction system… and I surely prefer VR gloves or Leap Motion approach.
Let me know your opinion about Touch in the comments… I’m very curious!
UPDATE: full review is now available at this link!