If you’re not getting along with the company’s newly redesigned Quest 3 controllers when it comes later this year, dubbed Touch Plus, Meta says you’ll have the option of swapping in the company’s Touch Pro controllers.

Meta unveiled its next headset Quest 3 today starting at $500, promising to be thinner and more powerful than Quest 2, and offer mixed reality color passthrough like the company’s enthusiast grade Quest Pro.

Meta also unveiled its Touch Plus controllers alongside the kit-and-kaboodle’s consumer-friendly price tag of $500. And Quest 3 is set to work with Touch Pro, which comes in the box with Quest Pro, just like Quest 2.

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But Touch Plus is doing away with the tracking ring found on every one of its motion controllers going back to the original Oculus Rift. Meta hasn’t spilled the beans on how it’s done, however it’s likely the headset is still using optically tracked IR markers like Quest 2’s Touch controllers, albeit without the tracking ring. Whatever the case, it doesn’t appear to feature the multi-camera inside-out sensor design like Touch Pro.

Touch Pro controllers | Image courtesy Meta

Why would you go pay extra for Touch Pro when Touch Plus boasts the same TruTouch haptics and slim ergonomics? We simply don’t know. Touch Pro is better at tracking thanks to the inside-out design, meaning it doesn’t suffer from the sort of occlusion issues that optically tracked controllers generally do.

We’re sure to learn more later this year, as it appears a more extensive reveal is scheduled for the company’s Connect developer conference on September 27-28. In the meantime, you can signup here for email updates.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Dragon Marble

    Why would you go pay extra for Touch Pro? Because you wouldn’t lose tracking when you turn around and look behind when flying an airplane — and other use cases.

    • Bob

      Good point there. I was about to side with the author here but then realized that perhaps the Quest 3 controllers track as well as the Quest 2 controllers albeit with the same caveats i.e. losing tracking in certain areas where the Quest Pro controllers would have no problem.

      These new controllers should have the same tracking fidelity as the Quest 2 Touch but ergonomically superior due to the lack of a tracking ring and a more streamlined form factor.

      • Shy Guy

        These new controllers should have the same tracking fidelity as the Quest 2 touch
        We don’t know that. I would worry that not having cameras in the upper two corners anymore might create a big blind spot for when the controllers are above headset level.

  • Yeshaya

    I was hoping you’d be able to use the Q2 controllers and possibly buy the Q3 without controllers to save money up front. Decently nervous about how they’re going to work without rings or cameras but I guess we’ll see. Really curious how the haptics work, if it’ll be similar to PSVR2, if they’ll have adaptive triggers too.

    • Corvid

      That would just cost them more money

    • Siren Canine

      i do have to say, Meta does a fair bit of testing with all of their products (except for the Link Cable), So I do believe that the Quest 3 and the controllers will be good.

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    Has it actually been confirmed that the Quest 3 will still track the Touch Plus controllers via IR emitted from the controllers?

    The Quest 2 used four low resolution b/w cameras for room/controller/hand tracking that were also sensitive to near infrared light. So placing a number of IR LEDs on the controller’s ring made them shine brightly for the Quest 2 camera sensors, making tracking rather easy, as it only has to calculate the 3D position and rotation from the brightest dots and can ignore everything else, as enough of them were always visible due to being place on the ring.

    The Quest 3 now replaces at least two of the b/w cameras with high resolution color cameras, which usually come with filters to remove any nIR light, as due to the way the sensors work, it would distort the colors of the passthrough in the red spectrum. And most of the surface of the Touch Plus will be hidden by the hands holding it when their top is tilted outwards, meaning less nIR cameras would be tracking a lot less visible nIR LEDs.

    So it is possibly that the new camera constellation simply isn’t as usable for tracking via IR, and as a result they had to switch to (computationally more expensive) non-IR visual object tracking. The controllers would still contain an IMU for high frequency (relative) 6DoF rotation and translation tracking like any other VR controller or the cheaper FB trackers, only the low frequency correction needed for the inherent drift of all IMUs would now be done in a similar way to how hand tracking works or how the Quest 2 can track some Logitech and Apple keyboards.

    The switch in tracking method shouldn’t make much of a difference regarding responsiveness, as this always depends on the IMU that can easily pull > 1000 values/seconds. Most affected should be the quality of the tracking in the far periphery, where the Quest 2 had the advantage of four cameras placed in the corners seeing at least some glowing IR dots. And the Quest Pro controllers with their built-in cameras and faster SoC can simply track the room themselves, thus never loosing tracking, at a much higher production cost. Visually tracked Touch Plus controllers without IR or built-in cameras would allow Meta to keep the costs low, similar to the ring based Touch controllers, only the improved haptics could raise the costs slightly.

    The savings from the missing LEDs and the smaller, ring-less case should be negligible, the lowered risk of the rings colliding when holding both hands close would be a larger benefit. The main disadvantage besides potentially less precise edge tracking/increased drift would be a slightly higher computational requirement, which shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the XR2 Gen 2. And as a positive side effect it may become more feasible to use the Quest 3 outside, maybe for some interesting MR experiments, where the Quest 2 tracking would regularly fail due to the sensors being overwhelmed by environmental IR light.

    • Shy Guy

      They’re probably using the depth sensor on the headset to help with controller tracking too.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        Very likely, but current depth sensors have a very limited resolution. According to leaks the Apple HMD will integrate the recently announced Sony IMX611 direct-Time-of-Flight sensor that will also be used in the iPhone 15. This sensors is pretty much current top of the class regarding photon detection efficiency, meaning it works better under non-ideal circumstances. Also astonishingly cheap at 1000 yen/USD ~7, though optics/enclosure/processing etc. will add a lot more costs.

        The IMX611 has a resolution of 140*170. Sony didn’t publish any info on the depth resolution, but AFAIR these sensors have a range of about 5m with 10-16 bit non-linear resolution. This means that based on a 90° horizontal FoV, at 50cm/arm’s length controller distance, a single sensor pixel has to cover 5.6mm, way too coarse to e.g. detect a button press. The low resolution doesn’t matter for the typical use cases of detecting the 6DoF position/rotation relative to the room for XR or for sorting objects by depth in photography, where the depth information is always combined with much higher resolution camera images.

        Relying on the depth sensor alone to track the controllers would result in a very jittery tracking, so they will use some type of sensor fusing including at least the IMU data and possibly also regular camera images, whatever provides the best balance between stable tracking and power consumption. The actual FoV of the depth sensor depends on the optics, but I’d expect it to be lower than the combined FoV of the regular cameras to get most of the limited resolution. So using depth sensor data for hand/controller tracking wouldn’t help with the above mentioned problem of possibly worse tracking at the very edge of the cameras’ visual field, where IR based tracking with cameras located on the HMD corners may work better.

        • Shy Guy

          Indeed. I expect the depth information will only be used to anchor the controller positions to cancel the drift in the IMUs. It will probably help with detecting when hands/controllers are occluding each other too. As you say it will only be able to help within its narrow FoV.

          I’m glad to hear that time of flight cameras are so cheap and plentiful now. I was disappointed to see the Xbox Kinect fail and be abandoned.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            The USD 7 for the sensor comes from Sony itself, and a single IMX1611 is listed at USD 10 in a leaked Apple HMD BOM tweeted by Brad Lynch on May 18th. The whole BOM comes to USD 1509, with the main cost being the two 1.3″ micro OLED displays at USD 350 each, USD 130 for assembly, USD 120 for a M2 SoC, USD 120 for the case/frame, USD 60 for the pancake optics and another USD 60 for a dedicated image processor, together making up almost 80% of the total costs.

            A second cost analysis from the same thread lists a total of USD 1400 with somewhat higher/lower prices for the chips, frame and display, and a “3D sensor part” at 80-90 USD, without any info what this entails besides the dToF sensor. The IMX1611 already integrates a DSP that converts the raw data into depth information, they’d mostly need to add a light emitter and optics. I currently have no idea what could add pretty much ten times the sensor price to the assembly, we’ll probably have to wait until someone posts a full teardown of the HMD.

            I was also disappointed that consumer depth sensing pretty much vanished after the Kinect. Google tried to resurrect it around 2016 with Google Tango for AR, but then switched to regular cameras for ARCore. Their radar based project Soli made it into Nest hub and Pixel 4 for hand gesture detection. But so far the only company that has really embraced it is Apple.

            Thankfully depth sensing never really disappeared, with development continuing mostly for usage in robotics, so despite the long absence from the consumer market we can now still reap the fruits of a decade of tech improvements and cost reduction. And with wider adaption in phones and XR devices prices will hopefully drop further to similar levels of simple camera modules today, which sell for less than USD 2 incl. optics. This would allow for lots of self tracking devices like the Quest Pro controllers, but at very cheap prices. For anything from from full body tracking sensors and doors that can warn you that you are about to smash into them to keychains that know that you accidentally put them in the fridge and can message their location to you phone.

  • Hussain X

    Please, no built in batteries for the controllers, which looking at images, sadly seems to be the case! Being able to swap out batteries (I use rechargeable AA) brings about a lot of convenience and is a very high end feature.

  • Siren Canine

    one thing is, if youve ever played shooters like Onward, you are going to be aiming very close to your face. Loosing tracking can cost you the entire game.

  • SmackDesil

    For someone totally new to Quest. I went and ordered the Quest 3 with the assumption that it comes with 2 hand controls. I know nothing about VR gaming and I hope that it was not a bad choice.

    • Rex Thorne

      It does, but the controllers lose tracking when the headset can’t see them, like when pulling back on a bow, so it’s good to have the option to upgrade to better controllers.