Oculus Touch release date confirmed, but limitations apply

7 Oct 2016

The Oculus Touch. Image: Oculus VR

Oculus VR has revealed its hands-on approach to virtual reality with the $199 Oculus Touch, but will the tethered connections and pricey add-ons put some customers off?

Like Hoover and Jeep, some brand names are so closely associated with a type of product that they become the name of the product themselves, and the Oculus Rift is certainly in that category.

Having finally jumped the hurdle of launching the headset as a finished product, the company is now looking to the next stage – specifically the user’s hands – with the launch of Oculus Touch.

Aimed at first-person shooters

Revealed at its Oculus Connect 3 developer conference, the pair of controllers are certainly unique looking; with its circular band for the user to put their hand into, to allow for greater natural movement.

They also come with a small joystick and buttons on each side of the small controller to select whatever option you might need.

But perhaps the feature most likely to be used will be the trigger button towards the front of the controllers, which opens up the Oculus Rift to a serious back catalogue of first-person shooters.

Demos of the controllers at the conference appear to show an ability to track the movements of your thumb, index finger and the remaining three fingers combined to allow a realistic version of your hand.

Much like the parent headset, Oculus Touch works off a tethered system so there won’t be much scope for movement.

However, it is working on an untethered stand-alone unit – with help from Facebook – putting it in competition with some newcomers like Intel and its Project Alloy.

Accessories apply

The decision taken by Oculus VR to release hand controllers for a virtual reality (VR) world was essentially a given, with many of its competitors (like the PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive) already announcing their own similar accessories.

For those who already own an Oculus Rift, the company has also announced a release date of 6 December and a price tag of $199, but the product can be pre-ordered as of 10 October.

There are some accessories that are certainly not small add-ons, such as a third sensor that allows the user to get room-scale support for their VR gear, costing an additional $79.

When you put all of this together – from a first-time buyer’s perspective – it will set a person back $877.

As for newly announced game releases, perhaps one of the most exciting is Arktika.1, a game set in a dystopian future where the world has frozen over. It is designed by the same studio that released the very popular Metro 2033 series.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic