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E3 2015: Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch Hands-On

by: John -
More On: E3 2015

My final day at E3 started off with a bang as I got a hands on demonstration of Oculus Rift and the Oculus Touch. The final Rift design was shown late last week as well as the reveal of the Half-Moon Oculus Touch controllers.

I have a DK2 at home so I was really excited to see what the final units would be compared to the developer kits. The Rift feels so much lighter and the soft cloth covering was a vast improvement over the DK2. It was pretty easy to put on and I didn't adjust it nearly as much as when I put on the Dk2.

The screens were gorgeous and I could see very little if any screen door effect. Once I was deep into the demo, I thought the picture was pretty clear. You could really see the improvement the first time you put the Rift on if you have the DK2. The picture was much clearer, but then again that could be because of what was being used to demo the unit. I really like the Oculus Touch controllers. They were comfortable and very light weight. Even though they were prototypes, the triggers and sticks felt great. It does track the thumb and index finger but only in two positions. So you can point and give a thumbs up or have them closed up into a fist, but nothing in between. Which, is fine in my book for now as I can't think of an application where I would want to track the individual finger location at smaller intervals.

Oculus had a Toy Box demo where they had a bunch of objects that you can interact with. I first started out stacking blocks and using toss items around the play area. I was able to pick up a paddle and knock some ping pong balls around. I did try to juggle but that failed miserably, but that's because I didn't get the timing of grabbing an object out of the air just right. I was able to grab objects in mid-air a few times after a while though.

There was a ball on a tether and I was able to punch it and have it smash some garden gnomes that were scattered around it. I was even able to use my head and perform a soccer header on it.

Another demonstration of how accurate the controllers was in a fireworks room. I picked up a lighter, flicked it open, picked up a sparkler with my other hand, and was able to light the sparkler and write in the air. I mean, it was just so natural. There was no thinking, no hesitation. Everything that I saw in the Oculus in terms of my hand motions was matched one to one in the virtual world. I didn't feel awkward at all and that goes to show how really refined the Oculus Touch controls are.

I was then put into a shooting gallery and picked up two guns and just started shooting everything in sight. Just having the feeling of a gun in each hand and aiming in all directions while shooting at objects was amazing.

Besides showing off the accuracy and immersion that you get when using an Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch controllers, the demonstration also displayed the social aspect that's possible with this setup. I had another person in another room interacting with me on her Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch setup. She placed objects around me to use and she even handed me items while conversing with me throughout the demo. One of the funnier parts of the time I had there was being able to pick up some hand puppets and we did a mock conversation with them, opening their mouths and making faces with the thumb sticks.

Yes, the Oculus Rift was amazing with how it felt and the picture quality as well as the nice headphones that come attached to it. But then you add something like the Oculus Touch controllers, which were incredibly well done, and it takes the immersive experience to a whole new level. Then you add the ability to play with others and it jumps to another level.

While I was a little skeptical when watching the press conference about the controllers, I'm a big believer now. It truly blew me away and I caught myself with my mouth wide open while using it because of how incredible it was, and probably looking like an idiot too with that expression on my face.

I truly cannot wait to pick up the entire set in the first half of next year. Oculus has a winner with both the Rift and Touch Controllers and it was one of the best things I experienced this year at E3.