What is Oculus Touch?

Motion controls for Oculus Rift

Hands holding Oculus Touch controllers
Oculus Touch adds intuitive motion controls to Oculus Rift games. Oculus VR

Oculus Touch is a motion controller system that was designed from the ground up with virtual reality (VR) in mind. Each Oculus Touch consists of a pair of controllers, one for each hand, that essentially operate like a single gamepad that has been split down the middle. This allows Oculus Rift to provide full motion tracking of a player's hands in VR. 

The Oculus Touch controllers are also legitimate video game controllers in their own right, with the full complement of analog sticks, face buttons, and triggers necessary for playing modern games.

How Does Oculus Touch Work?

Oculus Touch combines traditional game controller functionality with the motion tracking technology found in the Oculus Rift.

Each controller includes an analog thumbstick similar to those found on other modern game controllers, two face buttons that can also be pressed with a thumb, a trigger designed for the index finger, and a second trigger that is activated by squeezing the rest of the fingers against the controller grip.

In addition to standard game controls, each controller also has a number of capacitive sensors that are capable of telling where the player's fingers are located. For instance, the controller can tell whether or not the index finger is resting on the trigger, and whether or not either thumb is resting on a face button or thumbstick. This allows a player to point their virtual finger, ball up their virtual hand into a fist, and more.

Each Oculus Touch controller is also studded with what Oculus VR calls a constellation of LEDs that are invisible to the naked eye, just like the Oculus Rift. These LEDs allow Oculus VR constellation sensors to track the position of each controller, which lets the player move their hands around and rotate them through a full range of motion.

Who Needs Oculus Touch?

Oculus Rift systems packaged after August 2017 include both Oculus Touch and two sensors, but Oculus Touch is also available to purchase separately. This is useful for anyone who was an early adopter of the Rift. Anyone who buys a used Oculus Rift that was originally sold prior to the release of the Oculus Touch will also benefit from buying the peripheral.

Although there are a lot of VR games that don't require motion controls, the experience is much more immersive and feels a lot more natural, with the addition of motion-tracking controllers.

Oculus Touch is a comfortable and full featured game controller on its own, but it actually doesn't work without the Oculus Rift. The controllers can't connect directly to a computer, so it actually isn't even possible to use them without an Oculus Rift headset to act as a middleman.

Oculus Touch Features

The Oculus Touch kit
Oculus Touch controllers communicate with your Oculus Rift headset to track your hands in virtual space. Oculus VR
  • Intuitive VR controls: Point your finger while holding the controller, and watch your virtual finger do the same thing. Allows you to point, grab, pick up, and interact with virtual worlds in an intuitive fashion.
  • Twin stick controls: Features a twin analog stick control scheme that will be familiar to console gamers.
  • Comfortable and lightweight: The familiar handle-and-trigger design fits well in the hand, and the weight is light enough for long gaming sessions.
  • Haptic feedback: Increased sense of immersion when touching and interacting with a virtual world.

Oculus Touch

Oculus Touch controllers
Oculus Touch controllers look like a bifurcated game controller, which allows for free hand movement. Oculus VR

Motion controls: Yes, full-motion tracking with six degrees of freedom.
Directional controls: Dual analog thumbsticks.
Buttons: Four face buttons, four triggers.
Haptic feedback: Buffered and non-buffered.
Batteries: 2 AA batteries required (one per controller)
Weight: 272 grams (excluding batteries)
Availability: Available since December 2016. Included with new Oculus Rifts and also available for purchase separately.

Oculus Touch is Oculus VR's first true motion controller. Although the Oculus Rift headset originally shipped with a handheld remote control, it only had limited motion tracking.

The Oculus Touch has full motion tracking with six degrees of freedom, which means it can track each of your hands moving forward and back, left and right, up and down, and also sense rotation along each of those three axes.

Each controller also includes features that will be familiar to console gamers, including two analog sticks, four face buttons, and two triggers. This is roughly the same number of buttons and triggers as a DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller.

The main difference between the configuration of the Oculus Touch and traditional gamepads is that there is no d-pad on either controller, and the face buttons are split between the two controllers instead of all being accessible by the same thumb.

Previous and Alternate Controls for Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift Xbox One controller and remote
Oculus Rift originally shipped with an Xbox One controller and a small remote. Oculus VR

The Oculus Touch wasn't available when the Oculus Rift was first launched. Most games that were in development at that time were designed with a controller in mind, so the initial run of Oculus Rift headsets shipped with alternate control methods.

Xbox One Controller
Oculus VR partnered with Microsoft to include an Xbox One controller with every Oculus Rift prior to the introduction of Oculus Touch. The included controller was not the updated Xbox One S version, so it lacked both Bluetooth connectivity and a standard headset jack.

Once the Oculus Touch was introduced, the inclusion of an Xbox One controller was phased out.

Oculus Remote
The other Oculus Rift controller that predates Oculus Touch is the Oculus Remote. This tiny device is very basic and is better suited to navigating menus than actually playing games.

The Oculus Remote does feature limited tracking, which allows the user to point and click in VR, but it lacks the full positional tracking offered by the Oculus Touch.

Oculus Rift units that include Oculus Touch do not include the Oculus Remote, but it is still available for purchase as an accessory.