Room-scale VR is coming to the Rift with some strings attached

Oculus may have had a commanding lead in VR technology when the most recent push for goggling in started a few years ago, but Valve and HTC have achieved remarkable success in their own right with the Vive, its tracked hand controllers, and Lighthouse system for "room-scale" VR experiences. The soon-to-be-released Touch controllers may give Oculus owners a hand with more direct VR interactions, and the support documents for those controllers give us our first look at what room-scale experiences will look like through the Rift's lenses. 

Oculus' default setup for Touch cameras appears to be side-by-side, three to six feet apart, in front of the area where the controllers will be used. That configuration apparently won't allow a full 360 degrees of rotation, though—the line-of-sight to the controllers could be blocked by the user's body. To get around that issue, Oculus is proposing a pair of "experimental" configurations that permit full 360-degree tracking and room-scale experiences.

The first method for 360-degree operation involves placing the pair of Oculus cameras in a diagonally-opposed configuration ranging from six to 10 feet apart. That approach will give users a roughly five-foot-square play area (1.5 by 1.5 meters). Because of its experimental nature, Oculus' guide walks users through the numerous error messages they'll receive when they attempt to set up the hardware this way, and it warns that the configuration may not work with some play spaces or PCs.

The second experimental method involves adding a third camera to the pair one will have on hand after buying a Rift and the Touch controllers. That $80 add-on augments the tracking capabilities of the existing sensors  to allow for a play area as large as 8.2' (or 2.5m) square. Oculus further recommends that users have a minimum play area of seven feet by five feet in order to jump into room-scale experiences.

For comparison, the maximum diagonal distance between sensors for the Vive is five meters. That translates into an area of approximately 11.5' x 11.5' (3.5m x 3.5m). These all may sound like large spaces, but in our experience, even a maxed-out Vive play space is just enough room to really enjoy walking around in room-scale VR. You want as much room as you can possibly dedicate to the experience. With that in mind, the relatively smaller spaces that Oculus is tracking for room-scale Touch use seem potentially limiting.

For now, it seems like those with a hankering for room-scale experiences and room to spare will still get the most enjoyment out of the Vive, especially considering the fact that the system has had room-scale support from day one. Oculus' "experimental" room-scale support may turn out to be a hit with the Touch controllers' finger-tracking, but the experience seems less fully-baked than we might have expected. We'll have to see just how well the fully-operational Rift compares to the Vive when the Touch controllers start shipping soon.

Comments closed
    • thesmileman
    • 3 years ago

    As a VR Dev, I have Oculus Touch and Vive. The Oculus Touch is a joke. You can’t go below your desk unless you are 5 feet away from it. The first time you drop something in VR, point a gun at the floor, or put your hands down you realise what a joke the Rift Touch is. Also the Rift Touch setup shakes around like mad because the tracking is sub par. I constantly looks the touch tracking and the tracking jumps around like mad. Hand presence is nice but shaky hands that disappear isn’t worth it.

    • meerkt
    • 3 years ago

    In the first image that’s a 15″ monitor!

    • DPete27
    • 3 years ago

    So you can stand in one spot and extend your arms (at best), but that’s it?…. Great….sign me up. What a joke.

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 3 years ago

      Do you have a Vive? I have both Oculus and Vive and several Vive setups that I have access to on a daily basis ranging from near the minimum size to the maximum.

      Honestly my impression was the same as yours initially – you need a big space to have fun! But honestly even the biggest Vive space isn’t enough to walk around entirely in any reasonable game experience, so basically every game has added some form of teleporting or some other way to move around.

      Now here’s the rub: once you have teleporting or locomotion, the value of having a large play area drops to near zero. In fact, moving around physically in the play area becomes a liability because the strange way that it then has to interact with the ingame locomotion mechanic (where is the “center” of the space? Does that move when I teleport or is it relative? It’s not intuitive at all and there’s no really good solution).

      Thus you end up mostly standing in place and using teleportation to move + stretching your arms out and maybe pivoting on one foot. That is really all you need for current VR experiences; any additional space is fine but mostly unnecessary.

        • zqw
        • 3 years ago

        Why are we discounting trampolineVR and swingsets? [url<]https://get.google.com/albumarchive/109265707667080968074/album/AF1QipPscHvScbQRwE-Pz07SaboKl-HNN3zzynCAAsOy[/url<] (But seriously, totally agree on the mismatch in practice for teleporting and roomscale.)

          • Andrew Lauritzen
          • 3 years ago

          Ha awesome; had not seen that one yet. People do some awesome stuff with Vive 🙂

    • zqw
    • 3 years ago

    Agree Vive is easier roomscale. But, it’s worth noting Oculus supports more than 3 cameras already, if you’re in the researcher / crazy experimenter camp.

    Once Touch ships, the practical comparison will shift to hand presence and if you value that more than active room scale games.

    I’m expecting a 3rd-party Lighthouse tracked Touch knockoff sometime next year as well.

    • psuedonymous
    • 3 years ago

    These are conservative, based on available room height. The limiting factor is the 70° vertical FoV of the Constellation cameras (hFoV is 100°, anything beyond 90° with a corner positioning is sufficient for total coverage). If you angle the cameras such that their upper FoV limit as at ceiling hieght, you end up with zones directly beneath them that are not visible to that camera. Angle them down to eliminate those deadzones, and if you are tall and your room has a low ceiling your hands can exit the tracking volume when reaching upwards in the centre of the room. With sufficiently high ceilings, you can have edge-to-edge coverage.

    In practice, unless you can dedicate a room to VR and remove all furniture (and board up all windows, and forego any TVs/monitors/chairs/etc). you will need some ‘no-go’ space around the edge anyway, to prevent damage to yourself or possessions (or walls).

      • thesmileman
      • 3 years ago

      The biggest problem with Oculus Touch tracking is your desk. it creates a virtual deadzone about 4-5 feet in front of it unless you have the camers right on the edge and then you can’t stand up. Its a real problem that no amount of configuration will fix in my experience. The Lightroom tracking on the vive just works and works really well.

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