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Oculus Rift CV1’s 360 degree Touch tracking may be problematic

Although one of the big touted features of the Oculus Rift consumer release headset (CV1) is 360 degree tracking, it may not be entirely perfect. So much so in-fact, that when the hand-tracking Touch controllers are released at some point next year, some experiences will need to be completely retooled to make them work correctly.

The first indication that this may be the case came from VRFocus‘ look at Job Simulator, which has you performing tasks in VR like plugging your office computer in, or carefully carrying eggs from the fridge to the kitchen counter. It's exciting, high-intensity stuff, but the Oculus Touch controllers struggle to do what the HTC Vive can and that's track you when you turn completely around. Your head and viewpoint remain tracked thanks to LEDs on the back of the CV1's headband, but the hands can be lost entirely.


“A slight turn too much and tracking would be lost. It’s a simple and straightforward issue, but one which will be very hard to overcome without expecting consumers to invest in additional hardware. The issues didn’t come from simulator sickness and some might expect, but clear-and-simple annoyance: Job Simulator works perfectly on HTC Vive, but the experience is marred by technical issues with motion-input on Oculus Rift,” reviewer Kevin Joyce said in damning fashion.

When this problem was raised on the Oculus Subreddit, the reasons why Oculus' Touch hardware struggled with 360 degree tracking became apparant: Oculus recommends trackers are placed on the user's desk. With two trackers at either end of a desk in-front of the user, when they turn around, the hand controllers may no longer be seen by either station. In comparison, Valve/HTC's lighthouse tracking system with the Vive, when placed higher up can track its motion controllers in full 360 degree even on developer hardware.

That makes it more suited to room scale, 360 degree VR experiences according to fans.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n97Q4sDawAs']

According to Oculus VR's founder Palmer Luckey though, that's ok. As it's because Oculus is targeting something different with its virtual hand tracking hardware.

“Our tech is perfectly capable, we just don't think most consumers are going to want that kind of setup, or the fine-interaction occlusion problems that can result. We have to pick a default target, and both sensors on the desk with fewer occlusion problems is the bet I am making. It works much better for some interactions, and worse for others.

“Occlusion is not an issue that is specific to Touch, Vive, or most other tracking solutions. It is mostly a matter of sensor placement,” he said.

Other commenters however disagreed, suggesting that fine hand motion was already possible with the HTC Vive hardware and it also had the full tracking all around the player. They also pointed out that Oculus' USB powered tracking system meant they had to be mounted near the PC in question, whereas Valve's lighthouse laser-based system meant the trackers could be placed anywhere in any size room.

However other Oculus engineers have said that room scale tracking is possible and that with clever camera placement, losing track of the hand controllers would be unlikely.

“[They clarified] that yes, you would be able to set the cameras up in opposite corners of the room, for example, a setup which might allow for less occlusion issues with the controllers,” as per UploadVR.

KitGuru Says: I suppose we'll have to see, but it does seem like Valve is looking at VR experiences that are 360 degree, room scale, while Oculus is looking more towards forward facing, seated experiences. Although it seems unlikely that Oculus would rule out 360 degree experiences altogether, we will need more clarification before it seems as easy to achieve on the CV1 and Touch hardware as it is already on the HTC Vive. 

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