Roomscale Oculus Rift? 'Guardian' Boundary System, Touch Controllers Indicate New Capabilities

One of the primary differences between the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive is that the latter offers roomscale experiences. Rift is currently a sit-down experience only. The upcoming Touch controllers will add standing experiences, but it appears that Oculus is preparing roomscale support, too.

The September update of the Rift software (version 1.8) is coming soon, and it's bringing a new boundary system called the Guardian. It's a clear response to Valve’s Chaperone system, and it will allow you to configure virtual boundaries for your safe play space so that you don’t bump into walls or furniture while playing.

The Oculus Guardian system appears to be a carbon copy of Valve’s Chaperone. You will have to trace your play area and calibrate your floor, and from then on the Guardian will display a series of crosses that indicate your boundaries. Guardian also traces a line on the floor around your entire play space. Oculus said that you could choose to see the floor and walls, or the floor only, or you can opt to disable the boundaries altogether. If you leave them on, the markers appear on top of any application when you approach the edge of the safe zone, just like the Chaperone for the Vive.

This announcement bolsters the usefulness of the Touch controllers, which were first revealed at a press event days before E3 2015. At the time, Oculus intended to ship the Rift in Q1 of 2016 and follow with the Touch controllers in Q2. At the end of December 2015, Oculus announced a delay of the Touch launch, though the company maintained that the controllers would ship in 2016.

Earlier this summer, Oculus announced its third annual VR developer conference, Oculus Connect 3, and the company promised that Oculus Touch is high on the agenda. Oculus said it would reveal the details about the hardware, and we expect the company to reveal the release date and price. The company may even open pre-orders during the event.

Most of the details about the Touch controllers and how they work remain a mystery, but thanks to the documentation of the Rift SDK 1.8 updated, we get a taste of what’s to come. Oculus Touch is a pair of six-degrees of freedom (6DoF) tracked controllers that bring your hands into VR, which brings the Rift platform closer to parity with the Vive.

Oculus said we'd learn more about Oculus Guardian and OC3 in October, but developers with access to Touch engineering samples can experiment with the Guardian feature following the September update, which Oculus said drops this week.

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  • Sakkura
    The "Guardian" system is not a complete copy of the Vive's Chaperone system, at least from what info is available now. Chaperone always looks the same, regardless of game, whereas Guardian can be themed to fit with each individual game.

    Apparently Chaperone was set up that way during development, but they changed to a universal look to make it more recognizable or something. I guess there's a tradeoff, and I'll be interested to hear reviews on which works better.
  • Jeff Fx
    Oculus has to add room-scale if they want to be competitive. I expect TCO will be higher than the Vive, but if the Rift can run with 4 cameras to offer room-scale, they can become equal to the Vive, and Vive and Rift owners will be able to play Steam games together.
  • SockPuppet
    Oculus has really dropped the ball at every turn. Only a few more months and the Rift will finally achieve parity with the Vive. How much do you want to bet the "Touch" controllers will be $200 - thereby bringing the price for the entire system on the same level as the Vive?

    You're still stuck using their Facebook spyware if you want to use the Rift. You're still stuck with USB connected external cameras you're going to have to string wires across your entire playspace to use. It's just lucky for them that Valve actually has some scruples and doesn't care that the Rift can function perfectly inside of SteamVR when Oculus has put a lot of money and effort into trying to ensure the opposite isn't possible.