The new code-named Half Moon controllers are ring-shaped devices that fit in your hands and connect wirelessly with the headset and a personal computer. They will deliver “hand presence,” or the capability to pick up a gun in a virtual reality simulation and fire it effortlessly, without thinking too much about it, said Palmer Luckey, the founder of the Oculus VR division of Facebook.
“They are wireless, so you can maneuver through the virtual world unencumbered,” he said.
A whole virtual reality economy is riding on Oculus Rift, which is the premiere technology for viewing apps in VR, and games are the linchpin for it. Digi-Capital estimates that the combination of augmented reality and virtual reality will be a $150 billion market by 2020. The potential is so huge that Facebook bought Oculus last year for $2 billion. Oculus is expecting to ship the Rift in early 2016.
It has an analog thumbstick, two buttons, and a hand trigger. But since the Rift is coming with a Xbox One controller, you can use a more traditional style of input to play VR games.
“Imagine using this to pick up a virtual gun and fire it,” he said. “Finally, touch can detect finger poses like pointing, waving, or giving a thumbs up.”
Demos dubbed “toy box” will be available to show the prototypes for the Oculus Touch system at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) tradeshow in Los Angeles next week.
“We’ve been working on input since the beginning of the Rift,” said Luckey.
The hand controls will work with games that include the Eve Valkyrie, which looks, at least on a big non-VR screen, like a full-blown space combat simulator.
Oculus is making its own VR games and apps. It is also seeding money into indie game creators via game jams with big prizes. The idea is to get a virtuous cycle of hardware and software progress going so it becomes a self-perpetuating ecosystem.