Oculus Touch: All About Facebook's VR Headset Controller

Oculus Touch: All About Facebook's VR Headset Controller


When it launched in March 2016, the Oculus Rift only came with an XBox controller from Microsoft. With the launch of Oculus Touch controllers in early 2017, the sensation of immersion offered by VR has been considerably increased.

The Oculus Touch are motion sensing accessories specially designed for virtual reality. Their main interest is to allow the user to use their hands and fingers in a relatively natural and intuitive way within virtual reality rather than just pushing the buttons on a controller.

The user holds an Oculus Touch in each hand, but both are ultimately used as a single controller that we would have cut in two. In addition to the hand and finger tracking functionality, there are also analog sticks, buttons and triggers allowing more interactions in games.

How does the Oculus Touch work?

The Oculus Touch combines the functionality of a traditional video game controller with Motion Tracking technology similar to that of the Oculus Rift headset.

Each controller thus groups an analog joystick, two buttons, a trigger for the index finger and a second trigger to be activated by pressing the other fingers on the handle.

In addition to these "standard" controls, each Touch embeds different capacitive sensors to locate the position of the user's fingers. The controller can thus determine if the index finger of the player is resting on the trigger and if the thumbs are in contact with the buttons or the joystick.

This is what allows the user to use their "virtual hands" in video games. He is able to point with his finger, close his fist, press a button with his index finger or even grasp objects.

In addition, each Oculus Touch controller has a “constellation of LEDs” invisible to the naked eye. These diodes allow Oculus Sensors to track the position of each controller.

This allows the player to move their hands in the real world and in VR simultaneously, with six degrees of freedom of movement. It is the same system as that on which is based the tracking of the Rift, which also has LEDs under its visor.

Oculus Quest and Rift S: a new version of the Touch

Oculus Touch: All About Facebook's VR Headset Controller

With the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S VR headsets, launched on May 21, 2019, Facebook has chosen to introduce new Oculus Touch controllers. This new version offers exactly the same features, but its design has been modified to meet the needs of the new Oculus Insight tracking system introduced with these two devices.

On the first version, there was a constellation of infrared LEDs on the loop located under the controller. On the new version, the loop is located at the top so that the LEDs can be detected by the cameras integrated in the helmet without risk of obstruction.

Indeed, the Oculus Insight tracking system no longer relies on external sensors to be placed in the room around the play area, but on cameras directly integrated under the front of the helmet. The design of the controller has therefore been adapted accordingly.

Improvements needed

Update: the new Oculus Touch suffered from bugs. One of the most annoying was fixed at the end of June 2019. Indeed, the cameras of the Quest and the Rift S did not correctly capture the controllers when they passed behind the backs of the users. Above all, some of them noticed that the Oculus Touch could not virtually hold an object if they were close to each other.

Now it is much easier to shoot an archery or use a gun in virtual reality. In addition, there is no longer any need to touch the ground in order to perform the configuration of the guardian.

Another issue, this time attributable to Steam, was not allowing full use of controllers. Steam VR did not recognize them. When the product was launched, some games simply refused to launch. In addition, the titles displayed the old controllers, which is sometimes disturbing. Since the update, the problem is resolved. Note that some players have encountered problems. The controllers were replaced by the ERROR symbol characteristic of a missing graphic asset.

Why buy the Oculus Touch?

L’Oculus Touch makes virtual reality much more immersive. In addition to having the senses deceived by his Rift headset, the user is able to interact in a natural way by using his hands. The illusion is reinforced.

As of August 2017, however, the Oculus Touch comes with the Oculus Rift. So there is no point in purchasing the Touch separately if you are purchasing the Rift today. Unless you opt for second-hand equipment.

Main advantages of Oculus Touch

Oculus Touch: All About Facebook's VR Headset Controller

The Oculus Touch has several major advantages. First of all, as mentioned previously, these accessories allow more natural controls in virtual reality. The user can point, grab, pick up and interact with the virtual world intuitively.

In addition, its two analog joysticks will allow for those used to traditional "gaming" to quickly find their marks. Again, this is an asset that HTC's Vive Wands controllers lack, which are content with a touchpad.

The Oculus Touch is also pleasantly light and comfortable. Its design inspired by the handle of a saber makes it very ergonomic. It is therefore possible to use it for several consecutive hours without feeling physical fatigue.

Finally, let's also mention haptic feedback when the user touches a virtual object or interacts in the VR. This further increases the feeling of immersion.

Data sheet

  • Movement tracking: 6DoF
  • Directional controls: analog joysticks
  • Buttons: four buttons and four triggers
  • Haptic feedback: Yes
  • Batteries: One AA battery per controller
  • weight: 272 gr. (XNUMX oz)
  • Availability: available since December 2016, sold with the Rift since 2017

The alternatives

Oculus Touch: All About Facebook's VR Headset Controller

When the Oculus Rift came out, the Oculus Touch was not yet available. Fact, many games work without these accessories and it is possible to use other controllers as an alternative.

First of all, thanks to a partnership between Oculus and Microsoft, an Xbox One controller was included with every Oculus Rift until the Touch exits. Unfortunately, since the release of this official controller, the Xbox One controller is no longer provided. However, it is still possible to connect a separately purchased controller to the VR headset.

Likewise, the Rift was once supplied with the Oculus Remote. This is a small remote control allowing you to interact with the Rift. However, this accessory allows you to navigate the menus rather than playing video games. It only allows point and click, and does not offer the same position tracking features as the Oculus Touch. The Oculus Remote no longer ships with the Rift, but can still be purchased separately.

In the near future, it is likely that the Oculus Touch will in turn give way to a new generation of controllers. We can, for example, expect a democratization of haptic gloves allowing the user to use his hands and interact with virtual objects in a realistic way ...


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