Developer Shows Microsoft’s VR Controllers in Action


Earlier this week we shared our first hands-on with Microsoft’s VR controllers, but at the time the company didn’t allow us to document the session with photos or videos. Now, a developer with the controllers has produced a handy overview that shows how they work and gives a glimpse of them in action.

The Windows “Mixed Reality” (Microsoft’s term for AR and VR) controllers are unique among similar VR controllers (like those of the Rift and Vive) because they don’t require external sensor for motion tracking. Instead they are tracked by cameras on the VR headset (as far as we know, all of the Windows VR headsets will support the controllers). That means that setup is simplified, but also comes with a crucial downside which is that the controllers lose their positional tracking when outside of the camera’s view for more than a second or two.

Developer Sean Ong demonstrates this, while overviewing the controllers, by placing a bag over the tracking markers to block them from the camera’s view. When that happens the positional tracking is lost but the controller continues to reflect proper rotation thanks to internal rotation sensors. When the controller comes back into view of the camera, they pop back into place and regain positional tracking.

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For many VR games and applications this limitation not even be noticeable, especially because Microsoft is doing a bit of prediction to compensate for brief moments of positional tracking loss, though it could impact the experience for some apps where players frequently have their hands outside of the camera’s field of view.

Otherwise, Ong’s experience matches my own thoughts after a hands-on with the controllers: the placement of the trackpad and thumbstick is a little strange, and while the tracking may have some limitations, it’s definitely functional.

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  • Luke

    play SUPERHOTVR would be less fun with this system if they do not sell external sensors. I need to spread my arms and take objects I can’t see, fight and shoot like Neo.

    #Neo, #Superhot, #WhyamIhere?

    sry XD

  • Duane Locsin


    Just wait for Valve’s knuckles and inside out’s tracking limits look more like hindrances and are better suited for mobile VR.

    MS had the opportunity to template something closer to Occulus touch or even Valve’s knuckles, but by the time these controllers are out they will be over year behind what the more refined controls of Knuckles and Touch.

    On top of that you will have games that will start applying finger articulation as more a standard then what these controls could offer.

    MS are clearly rushing their “mixed” Reality initiative for the holiday season, with very vague games support, a jack of all trades – master of none (standard and ultra specs??)

    • PrymeFactor

      This seems like a foolish, ill thought out post.
      Convenience wise, this completely blows Vive and Rift out of the water. Fewer ports required on your PC, no need for external power sockets or USB extension cables…with a tracking solution that’s at least 98% as good for the vast majority of apps.

      “On top of that you will have games that will start applying finger articulation as more a standard then what these controls could offer.”

      Base Vive and Rift hardware don’t lend themselves to finger articulation tracking. Finger articulation will never be a standard until Gen 2.

      “MS are clearly rushing their “mixed” Reality initiative for the holiday season, with very vague games support, a jack of all trades – master of none (standard and ultra specs??)”

      These headsets support every VR game on Steam, plus additional VR experiences on the Windows Store. Also Oculus store support via ReVive.

      You ignorant fellows are tainting VR.

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    Their target is only the uninformed customers. How can anyone be interested in those old tech? So they don’t track fingers, they are only buttons. MS and friends (Acer, HP, Dell) have no clue about VR. They never even tried the Vive or the Oculus. And I am not even talking about their low fov 70-90 when Vive and Oculus have 110 degree of fov. There was no game demonstrated, because no game will work properly with the ms sticks. Even with the PSMove, you can touch both hands together.

    • PrymeFactor

      This is far better than the PS Move, the controllers can still be refined and previewers tried games like Superhot VR and Arizona Sunshine without issue.

      • Luke

        this is great, but in some games you need to use the arms to extend the action also where you are not looking directly. In my opinion they should relase a “pro gaming” version of the inside out HMDs, for example with 4 cameras on board to monitor the controllers also in the blind spots.

        • beestee

          What we know as the best examples of immersive VR today still work well within a tremendous amount of limitations.

          This particular limitation is not minor, but is also not a deal breaker in my opinion. This is significantly better than Gear VR and Daydream, yet those platforms still contain some compelling experiences despite the lack of good hand immersion.

          • Luke

            I completely agree with you. by the way this is just the first generation of VR headsets and I belive that for 2 years any PC HMD is worth itself with it’s unique limitations. Vive has it’s own, Oculus the same, so it’s ok. Our task is just try to have fun and they all sell good rigs (hust worth to search for the best value for money). I just hope developers will write those things in agenda for the second future consumer versions.

          • RFC_VR

            Hand immersion in Daydream is actually surprisingly good when done right – VR Karts has you holding the controller sideways with both hands as this screengrab from my HMD shows. Polyrunner uses a similar model to great effect. Horizons VR is another example where even single hand on controller is used to stunning effect with musical manipulation of environments.

  • If they get the goggles and hand trackers out for $300 or less, they will have a pretty killer combo. Not quite as nice as Oculus or VIVE, but no need for cameras or lighthouses, and a potentially very low price point.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Nope, the headsets and controllers are around $350 to $450..

    • Mark

      controllers cost $100 on their own so doubt it lol and headsets start at about $450 ish

  • Andrew Jakobs

    sigh, they aren’t unique compared to the other controllers, they also are tracked from the outside, in this case it’s the headset that does the tracking..

  • Mark

    other reviews ive seen have said the controllers don’t seem to be made for gaming as much as other controllers