December is closing in fast, and for Oculus Rift users, the end of the year marks a new step in the headset’s evolutionary process. In October during the Oculus Connect 3 conference, the CEO of Oculus VR, Brendan Iribe, took the stage and reconfirmed that the Oculus Rift can technically deliver room-scale experience, and will be able to do so once the Oculus Touch controllers hit the shelves. But in order for the Oculus Rift to take advantage of room-scale VR, the company suggests that the headset requires a total of three Oculus Sensors, and since the Rift ships with only one Sensor, something had to be done. Long story short, the company is now selling individual Oculus Sensors on its website for the price of $79 a pop.
The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are in close competition for market supremacy in the virtual reality segment, and so far HTC’s product seems to have made a bigger impact on consumers, partly thanks to the inclusion of room-scale technology. Room-scale uses a number of external sensors (in HTC’s case they are called “Lighthouse”, while Oculus simply calls them “Sensors”) that can keep track of the user’s position in a predetermined 3D space, allowing for a more engaging virtual reality experience. Currently the Oculus Rift lacks this capability, but this will change before the end of the year with the release of the Oculus Touch hand-tracked controllers. However, in order for room-scale to be allowed on the Oculus Rift, the company suggests that the headset needs to connect to three Oculus Sensors: two positioned in front of the user and one behind. The Oculus Sensors are technically cameras able to pick up on the infrared signals transmitted by the Oculus VR headset, and when properly placed around the play area, they can recreate a virtual space for room-scale experience and for accurately tracking the user in the 3D space. However, it’s worth noting that, according to the information shared on the Oculus Store “360° and room-scale tracking are experimental features – not all experiences may work as expected.”
The Oculus Rift ships with only one Sensor, and the Oculus Touch controllers (also required for room-scale) ship with an additional Sensor. Rift owners will have to buy a third Sensor separately if they wish to take advantage of this feature, and prospective early adopters can now buy individual Sensors for the price of $79. The package includes a Sensor with a 5-meter cable, and when used as a third unit it requires an additional USB 2.0 or higher port. Last but not least, it’s very important to note that the Oculus Sensor has an estimated shipping date of December 13 – 20, while the Oculus Touch motion controllers are expected to ship on December 6.