Watch Us Test Oculus Touch Front Facing Tracking to its Limits

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Oculus Touch is out tomorrow and we finally get to test just how well the optical ‘Constellation’ tracking system handles itself, all the way from rug scale to beyond roomscale.

The term “roomscale” has really only been in popular use in the VR industry for the last 18 months to 2 years, after the unveiling and subsequent demonstration of the HTC Vive, powered by Valve’s SteamVR architecture and their laser-based ‘Lighthouse’ tracking system, along with tracked motion controllers. Up until then, although acknowledging they were working on tracked controllers of some sort, Oculus had publicly adopted a firm policy of ‘seated VR’ as a target for their first consumer hardware experience, initially to be powered by a standard gamepad. Post-Vive however, it was clear the goalposts had moved as far as expectations for high-end VR experiences were concerned and ever since, we’ve been waiting for Oculus’ response to both hand presence and roomscale VR.

oculus-touch-review-6That response comes in the form of Oculus Touch, the company’s dedicated tracked motion controllers, powered by the same outside-in, IR LED-based ‘Constellation’ tracking system as the Rift VR headset. Unlike Valve’s Lighthouse, Oculus’ tracking solution is based on computer vision, with one or more sensors tracking the play space picking up arrays of IR LEDs mounted on supported devices. This solution has the advantage of simplicity for a seated VR scenario, one camera on the desk is all that’s needed to capture VR headset motion. But how does the same technology scale to enable a more free-roaming room sized VR experience?

Road to VR‘s intrepid Executive Editor set out to find the limits of Oculus’ camera sensors and found some expected weaknesses and some perhaps unexpected strengths in the different scenarios. Using the recommended play space sizes laid down by Oculus for 2 and 3 camera sensor configurations, Ben tests how far beyond those recommendations the system can reach and explores edge-case tracking.

Check out the full video at the top of this page and Ben’s full Touch review here, but key takeaways are:

  • Front-facing (i.e. 180 degree only) room-scale experiences are handled surprisingly well by just 2 camera sensors in a ‘room-scale’ configuration (that’s one sensor below Oculus’ recommendation)
  • Sensor accuracy is hard to fool even with high speed human movement
  • Some design compromises might have reduced tracking effectiveness – i.e. more surface area for each of the Touch’s tracking ‘rings’ cpi;d yield much better tracking coverage and accuracy.
  • Adding extra cameras increases redundancy to battle sensor occlusion but does not seem to greatly increase the potential size of the playspace.

Oculus Touch launches officially tomorrow worldwide.

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  • Firestorm185

    Saw this earlier on the channel today! Pretty cool info to know!

  • a247slacker

    are you going to try the 2 camera opposite each other on an angle next?

    • Ditto. Even moving the cameras farther apart is a good test. I still don’t see why 3 cameras should be needed for “room scale”, especially seeing the distance Ben is achieving with this demonstration. I’d love to test, but despite ordering at 1:49PM on Oct 10th, I don’t even have shipping status yet :/

      • Get Schwifty!

        Three cameras is not absolutely necessary… check out the videos by more than one dev on YouTube doing room scale with just two well placed cameras. Three will just ensure better tracking coverage, fourth about as good as is possible with the system. The one thing is the cameras have to be placed with care… people are erroneously making comments about not being able to track down the ground….because the damn cameras are not set at an angle tot track that low… I cannot believe that Kent “Drive” Bye put this out …. it’s easy to correct like any occlusion issue. What I am observing is that R2VR is populated by quite a few (mainly Vive owners) folks who take everything they hear at face value rather than studying the evidence and thinking it through. We get into a phenomena of “Confirmation BIas” where despite objective evidence to the contrary, they hold attitudes that don’t match reality that fit preconceived notions that are being fed by articles that insinuate degrees of difference that just don’t match up to more objective reports. Then when one detail is even halfway in the direction they want to feel, it gets taken and blown up beyond proportion. UploadVR seems to have a better, well-rounded and educated group which is more intellectually honest often about the differences between the two systems. R2VR panders mainly to the VIve crowd it seems.

        • Haha. I’ll withhold opinions about the 2 organizations given that I’ve been interviewed by R2VR and attended more than a couple UploadVR mixers. I will say that when interviewed by Ben Lang, his line of questioning was intelligent and seemed well thought out.

          Speaking of Vive vs Oculus and tracking, I’d think that with high corners (adjacent, if not opposite), with a low angle, would provide substantial tracking and that’s what I’ll be doing as soon as my Touch arrives. I think many people don’t realize the height has the added benefit of making the camera a bit further from the play space, which could come at the cost of reaching tracking extents, but I suspect for most people; will mean a wider overall area. Perhaps that’s where the 3rd camera really comes into play here. Setup as a triangle, up high, looking down, everywhere you move far from one camera, you’re closer to the other 2 and have less occlusion that way where the lighthouses are useful at much greater distances and so don’t need 3 for the scales we’re dealing with, but a 3rd would be beneficial if trying to setup a much larger space?

  • Sponge Bob

    :):):)

    good exercise, dude

    now, who in the world needs to move controller that fast (other than some crazy gamers) ???

    may I remind you that a normal PC user would always prefer a cheap wireless bluetooth mouse (10$) over a special high-performance super duper low latency wired gaming mouse (100$+)

    why put normal VR users and crazy gamers together in one user group ?

  • Sponge Bob

    “…one camera on the desk is all that’s needed to capture VR headset motion”

    this statement is actually incomplete which makes it factually incorrect

    the corrected statement is this:
    “one camera on the desk is all that’s needed to capture the motion of a LARGE VR headset covered with sh1tload of IR LEDs – the further from the desk the larger the size of LED constellation has to be…)

    Simple math – can’t argue

    • Get Schwifty!

      The fact the HMD is a given size with IR LED’s is a given. What is not pointed out in any review so far is that all of it comes down to range for camera sensitivity with Constellation. Makes sense to me that we will soon see possibly larger/more sensitive cameras which could easily extend the distance.

      • Sponge Bob

        One camera does not extend the distance. period.

        you need at least two cameras at some distance from one another

        • Get Schwifty!

          Uh yeah, I think he made that pretty clear…. not sure what your beef is on this one…

  • OgreTactics

    Have one other tracker and the touches, incoming. Yet, I’m not so excited. How many people bought the Oculus…how many will even have supplemental Touches?

    More excited about the new Leap Motion headset tracking component.

    • a corn

      as more games open up to anyone with motion controls, hopefully it won’t matter as much who bought what. Touch release is great for Vive users too since more people should be in MP lobbies.

      • OgreTactics

        “hopefully it won’t matter as much who bought what” unfortunately, always does. But my point was more about the priorities and how far from an actual virtual headset we were, while momentum interest is quickly waning.

  • Gary Kohout

    But what about when you need to do stuff behind you?

    • Sponge Bob

      to do stuff behind you like what ??? like wipe you butt ?

      how do you do it in reality, not in virtual reality ?

      over-expectations are abundant

      • ummm…

        he meant turning around. this is a huge point. is it room scale if turning around requires you to purchase another camera? what about shooters etc. always facing forward is going to limit and complicate everything. plus the playspace is smaller. keep an open mind. stop being so defensive. these are very valid points, and in my mind indicators of an inferior product.

        • Sponge Bob

          oops.. sorry.. my bad

          about turning around – i’ve always thought that tracking hand-held device right in front of you using external stations located at some distance is not a good idea – whether it’s vive or rift (vive has the very same problem btw – occlusion of one station by your body – makes controller tracking horrible in one dimension when this occurs)

          • ummm…

            its the best idea we have. this is gen 1 VR and it works fantastically. I’ve had a vive since launch. Occlusion has not been an issue for me. The rift and vive are the STANDARDS right now. They are both wonderful products, although i think there are functional and therefore experience limitations on one more than the other. If you want a VR experience that is 50 years down the tech cycle, then wait 50 years. As for me, im gonna have a great time RIGHT NOW with my hardware that works just as described 99% of the time.

          • Sponge Bob

            well have fun while you can with your setup

            by next Christmas your new hardware will be obsolete so you’ll have to buy a new one

            this is worse than video cards which become obsolete in 2 years

          • ummm…

            ya think gen 2 is coming out by xmas? nooooooooooo. what is gonna make it obsolete? i get what you are saying tho. im hoping my gen 1 will hold enough value to help me towards gen 2 immediately.

          • Adrian Meredith

            not obsolete it will work for years to come, it just wont be the best out there. I fully expect it to be like when the first iphone came out. Rapid innovation for the next 5-8 years. The truth is next years one probably wont have much more than 4k display. I’d much rather wait until a mature wireless, eye tracking 4k rift is ready but thats years away. Till then I’m happy with 1st gen

          • Get Schwifty!

            The presence quality goes a long way in any system, resolution is nice but presence… that is more important ultimately.

          • mm

            wrong..have you tried the Vive? Of course not because it doesn;t have this problem at all. I can turn 360 all day with no issues. Maybe next year Oculus…

          • Sponge Bob

            its not about rift or vive – they are both based on 2 spaced external stations to track objects
            they just do it in opposite directions, otherwise – same issues

            someone hacked the data stream from vive and published his findings: with one basestation occluded by user body the position of controller has a lot of jitter in the direction from controller to another base station

            this is fundamental limitation – have to have at least 2 stations to track objects

          • Get Schwifty!

            Don’t bother with objective evidence, it doesn’t fit the narrative of hate and fear … I suspect in two years with both systems active and people enjoying them (with room scale no less) all we will hear is how Lighthouse somehow is just inherently hands down superior in all regards and wtf is with poor “Rifters” who continue to use them.

          • Get Schwifty!

            That is expected with a two, front-facing camera approach. Try putting them in opposite corners… even just two and 360 is no issue.

        • Gary Kohout

          Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. I have never used Oculus, but do have the Vive, and it still works great when only one of the lighthouses can see the controllers. I was hoping the guy doing the video would turn around and show the range then, for a true test. I’m not sure how the camera thing Oculus is doing compares to the IR stuff that Vive is doing? Could be better, I don’t know. You would think that you would want the cameras on opposite corners of the play area though, like the lighthouses for the Vive? Anyway, i’m playing with writing some VR games, so I’ll have to pick up the Oculus sometime too, so hope it works good!

          • ummm…

            the vive was a good buy for the both of us. We did our research. I hope the rift gets it together – but the touch and its implementation feels (and by their own admission) is kind of an afterthought and not a priority. Id be a happy camper if oculus had a platform that was just as robust and well implemented as the vive. The media can’t trash oculus because it is bad for business, and because oculus does really have a nice product. It just isn’t THE product. Their experience, however, have a nice polish to them. I wish I could get my hands on some of the exclusives, but im not going to compromise to do so.

            good luck to both platforms.

          • Get Schwifty!

            When did Oculus state that Touch is an after thought? They clearly made it a priority in development and held it back on purpose, which is why the leveraged the introduction of 53 games (30+ new ones) tied to the Touch? Hardly an after thought.

            I will say again, people have routinely used the Rift and Touch and trade shows, etc. along with devs on video using just two cameras doing effective “room scale” good enough for games like Job Simulator. Even Ben Lang indicated the tracking is very good and we have video of them testing it, what more do you guys want?

          • ummm…

            you are not correct. look at what happened between oculus connect 1 and 2. listen bud. i think ive had my dose today. im about to jump into vr and decompress. i hope you are happy with your rift. if you are ever in new york city, and not a total creeper, you let me kno and come over and demo my vive. i dont want it to be better. i dont want you to be upset with your purchase. i just want you to see what VR is NOW, not in 20 years as some want us to believe.

          • Get Schwifty!

            So, despite objective evidence that the system actually works well, on video no less, we are to believe it must be otherwise?

            They did move on the controllers later, no doubt, but to say its an afterthought at this point is absurd to say the least. Oh, so since they didn’t focus on it immediately its an afterthought despite the intense work on the design and software to support it?

          • ummm…

            no no the system is still cutting edge. it just doesn’t work as well and has the same versatility as the vive. roomscale was an afterthought. oculus admits so. history says similar. take a look at that link that he put in the body of the article, as just one place to start your inquiry.

          • Get Schwifty!

            My bad, I thought you meant Touch, not Oculus support of “room scale” that is certainly an after thought. Sorry for the confusion ;)

          • ummm…

            oh lol lol. yeah. that would confuse my argument. I think the touch controllers are actually awesome. Im jealous. Can’t wait for the new vive controllers to drop.

          • ummm…

            tracking is good when you are in the cone. good luck staying in the cone.

          • Get Schwifty!

            LOL any time you move out of the cone of course you will lose tracking… this is no different than moving out of LOS with a Lighthouse unit… whats the point?

          • ummm…

            with lighthouse you DONT move out of it. thats the thing. you can occlude, but even that doesn’t happen very much – at least for me. i did my set up by the book.

          • Get Schwifty!

            Looking at the design there must be some effective field of view, so you have to be able to move out of their scope depending on the area. How is that fundamentally different from the IR camera limitations except perhaps less range? Occlusion only happens when the cameras can’t “see” the HMD or controller…. and is mainly a side effect of their tighter design.

          • ummm…

            one would have to work at finding a blind spot for the lighthouses, and really the only way to do it would be to just occlude. one doesn’t really lose tracking for any other reason with the vive. and even occlusion is a non issue.

  • Ghosty

    Nope… I still love my Vive way better… It tracks perfectly in 360 degrees to every corner of my play space… With just two lighthouses! Which are going to get even better in second gen!

  • Get Schwifty!

    Funny looking back, I searched to find the article on testing the Vive’s tracking… and unless I am looking at the wrong article nothing of this sort was done. No video of results, no numbers, nada, just glowing general verbiage.

  • Folo

    Too bad You didn’t show how good the tracking is whilst holding your hand up or close to the ground. I don’t know why but I can’t seem to be able to get good tracking in my small room witha a 2x2m play space :/