The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is one of the most anxiously anticipated gadgets of 2016, but the company has kicked off the new year by announcing a delay. They’ve been forced to push back the release of the headset’s innovative Oculus Touch motion controllers until the second half of the year.
Originally planned for ‘Q1 2016,’ which is business parlance for ‘spring time,’the Facebook-owned VR company said in a statement on its website: “On the path to perfecting Touch, we’ve decided that we need more time before release”.
Though Oculus said that had already ‘significantly improved’ the ergonomics of the Oculus Touch controller, it also outlined the areas that need work: “we’re implementing many changes that make Touch even more comfortable, reliable, and natural. We’re also implementing changes that improve hand pose recognition.”
Oculus has made it very clear this won’t affect the launch of the consumer-friendly version of the VR headset. “Rift remains on schedule to ship in Q1 with pre-orders launching very soon,” they said in the same statement. Again, for those that don’t work in finance, Q1 is anywhere between now and 31 March.
Though the controller delay is a blow for VR fans, we did already know that the Oculus Touch wouldn’t be bundled in with the Rift headset. Instead, it will include an Xbox One wireless controller, as part of a deal with Microsoft.
So why are the Oculus Touch controllers so special? As its name suggests, the wireless controllers allow you to reach out and touch virtual worlds. They do this with touch-sensitive buttons and infrared LEDs on the straps of the controller. These are picked up by the same infrared camera that senses where the Rift headset is looking, so the system can then plot exactly where the controllers – and by extension, your hands – are in 3D space.
One reviewer who had access to Touch prototypes said they were so ‘damn good’ he would hold off buying an Oculus Rift until the controllers went on sale. Do you agree? Let us know what you think of the Touch delay in the comments!