The demo floor at Oculus Connect 3 covers every kind of experience that their hardware can deliver, but the heat is clearly on the massive area dedicated to showing off their soon-to-be-available Oculus Touch hand controllers. Rightly so. When HTC’s Vive launched back in April it shipped with hand controllers, and Vive users can attest to how transformative true tracked hands can be in VR.
Oculus Rift shipped in August with only mouse/keyboard and gamepad control, which was forgivable seeing as they really couldn’t burden the hundreds of developers that had been laboring on Oculus launch titles for two years with a last-minute switch to a radically different input scheme. Even if they could, it seems that the Oculus hand controller hardware wasn’t even close to ready, and with HTC Vive speeding to market, waiting was never an option. In any case, as of today, the road to tracked hands on the Rift is wide open at last.
I’ve spent the better part of the morning on the demo floor of Oculus Connect 3 checking out many of the Oculus Touch launch titles, and talking to their creators. It’s clear that achieving compelling “hand presence” requires some planning. There’s a lot to consider, but it all starts with the hands themselves.
Hands in VR: The Implications of Grasp
When you first register the perfect correspondence of your physical hand motion to the animation of your in-word hand models, your brain sets up a lot of expectations pertaining to scale, orientation, and visual fidelity. If the scale of your virtual hands feel correct and your virtual forearm attaches to the hand at the expected angle of your real-world wrist, things work quite well and you quickly accept your virtual hands as your own. If those aspects are off, then users will struggle to buy into the experience. The hand models will feel more like objects that you are holding, rather than your actual hands. Frankly, it’s creepy as hell. Interestingly, those spatial cues are far more important than literal appearance. Your new hands can be mechanical, or zombified, gloved, bear claws, whatever. As long as they roughly occupy the expected space well enough, all is well.
Check out these VR-ready hand models from the TurboSquid catalog. These are all well-optimized for VR and set up with good articulation where it matters the most. Many also include animation rigs. There are many more on the site, but these are some of our favorites, and should save you a ton of time when incorporating the new Oculus Touch Controllers into your VR project.