Oculus Touch went through some interesting changes during creation

There was even a version that used all your fingers
Design: Oculus Touch prototypes

A lot of this year's Oculus Connect has been focused on Touch, the Rift controllers that launch on 6 December.

In a talk held by Oculus's industrial design director Peter Bristol, we learned a bit more about how the controllers were made and some of the design decisions behind them. We were also shown some slides of the prototypes along the way to launch, revealing the different ideas that Oculus toyed with.

A lot of the obstacles that arose came from the positioning of the buttons and thumbsticks relative to the rest of the controller. Earlier prototypes required the hands to take a certain pose on the base, but this wouldn't account for variation in hand size. "It worked really well if you had hands the size of the development team," joked Bristol.

So the team looked to traditional game controllers, where the user puts their fingers and thumbs on the buttons and sticks first, and let the rest of their hands fall comfortably around the shape of pad.

oculus touch prototypes

oculus touch prototypes

"We found that there's a common relationship between the first knuckle of the index finger and the middle knuckle of the thumb," Bristol said. "That relationship is really consistent across everybody."

That understanding shaped the layout of the controllers. Putting the sticks and buttons really tightly together in one location helped lessen the impact of variable hand sizes.

Oculus also increased the diameter of the disk, then compressed the thumb stick and action buttons over towards the index finger, carving out more of a landing spot for the thumb.

oculus touch prototypes

This had an unintended benefit of bringing the action buttons and thumbstick closer together, decreasing time between inputs and making for a better experience during more vigorous gameplay.

Interestingly, Bristol said the team were concerned people wouldn't have the full dexterity of their middle finger on the back to justify putting a button there, but were proven wrong - so the trigger stayed.

Read next: This is what VR will probably look like in 2021

But that's where things stopped, although Bristol revealed they did try some mock-ups that involved using all of the fingers.

"Some of the three finger modes are pretty interesting, we actually built them up and tried them in VR," he said. "But it was a bit too intuitive. Where you went to throw an object, you'd just throw the controller"

oculus touch prototypes

oculus touch prototypes

oculus touch prototypes

oculus touch prototypes

Oculus also put magnets in the developer model of Touch - designed so they would sit together when not in use - but they won't be present in the consumer model. That's because the magnetic force would too often cause the controllers to recoil off each other from impact and roll away.

Oculus' design director also said that in some experiences with slower, more precise movements involving holding the controllers together, the magnetic pull could be felt every so slightly, damaging the immersion.

Is Oculus Touch worth the wait? Let us know in the comments.


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1 Comment

  • Firestorm185 says:

    Well, they're only really useful at all if you own a Rift already. But for those who do (like me) they are SO worth it! I'm preordering them with the priority status as soon as it starts tomorrow! SO EXCITED!

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