After teasing us last week, Oculus has released more revealing photos of the latest design of their Touch VR controllers. Not seen on the previous ‘Half Moon’ prototype is a mysterious pattern to the left of the buttons, as well as a new button.

Moving on from the Touch ‘Half Moon’ prototype which the company revealed in mid 2015, Oculus is now showing what appears to be a near-final version of the Touch VR controller.

oculus touch new feature design (5)

Since the Half Moon prototype we can see that the IR tracking LED’s have been hidden underneath what’s most likely IR-transparent plastic (just like the consumer Rift). There’s also now a new button with an Oculus icon on it, which will likely be used as a ‘Home’ button to return to the Rift’s pre-app VR environment.

oculus touch new feature design (6)

In addition to a more mature looking industrial design and modified thumbstick, we see a mysterious new feature added to the top surface of the controller next to the buttons. At first glance it looks to be a speaker of sorts, but with the Rift most often likely to be used with headphones (and Oculus spending so much time working on 3D audio through software) a speaker makes little sense to be included on the controller, unless for some non-VR applications (Nintendo’s Wiimote actually did this, albeit poorly). A microphone is also plausible, but with the Rift already including a built-in mic, placing one on each controller doesn’t seem likely.

With that in mind, the new area may be simply a tactical hint, giving users an obvious area to place their thumb when not using the Rift’s thumbstick or buttons. Although many game console controllers expect users to keep their thumbs on the sticks at all times, Oculus made Touch as a hybrid device, expecting that many uses won’t need the sticks or buttons at all, but wanting to keep them there for the experiences that would benefit from them.

oculus touch new feature design (3)

If the newly seen feature on Touch is indeed a tactile surface, it also seems like that is it capacitive (able to sense the touch of a user’s finger). The majority of the buttons and triggers on Touch are also capacitive, allowing the system to understand where you are touching the controller even if you aren’t actually pressing any buttons. This can help with understanding the user’s actual hand position, allowing for gestures like pointing and thumbs-up.

While Oculus Rift pre-orders will open this week, the company says that Touch won’t ship until the second half of 2016, with pre-orders coming a few months prior.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Tsunvsmoon

    Maybe the pattern next to the buttons is a heart rate sensor.

    • Damien Williams

      yea that would be perfect if it was, would be great to see your heart rate while playing games such as affected lol

      • Cuerex

        it hopefully is a biological scanner to access facebook even faster ;D

    • NeoTechni

      That’d be poorly placed. It should be in the handle. And it’d be a solid piece of metal, not a grill

  • Doctor Bambi

    Hmm, that is quite odd. It certainly isn’t out of the question that a speaker is in there. The Wii remote and more recently, PS4 controller have speakers in them, designed to enhance the audio soundscape of your living room. Having a speaker in the controller could potentially cut down on the need to process audio for certain objects, just let the natural position of your hand “process the audio” acoustically.
    But this could be cause for concern. Small speakers have a hard time producing low frequencies, this ends up sounding harsh, tinny, and lacking in body. I would imagine poor sound representation could be more of a hindrance than a help to immersion in certain situations.
    Guess we’ll have to see what information the week brings us.
    Really exciting info though!

    • Cuerex

      i don’t think it is a speaker since why would you want immersive sound out of your stereo speakers? you’d need a dolby atmos setup for this while the stereo cans would suffice entirely at the moment.

      either it is something completely different of the purpose of audio or it is simply for notification sounds like “charged up”

    • care package

      My experience with the PS4 controller speakers has been positive.

  • care package

    They look SO much better than the Vive wands. Plus there are analog sticks instead of Steam controller pads.

  • I think the tactile surface is just a small, capacitive track pad and it’s textured so you can find it easy when the headset is on. This would be useful for scrolling and other functions