One of the key differences between the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive is that the latter supports room-scale VR in addition to sitting/standing experiences. With a recent software update, Oculus Home now supports up to four trackers, enabling room-scale VR instead of only front-facing. This will improve the Rift’s performance in room-scale games, in the lead-up to the release of the Oculus Touch controllers later this year.
The initial release of the Oculus Rift was designed for use while sitting down, Xbox controller in hand. The HTC Vive, on the other hand, comes with two motion controllers and a pair of sensors that make it possible for players to walk around a room in order to interact with the virtual environment. Games supporting this are available in Steam, and are compatible with the Oculus Rift, but aren’t really playable with the Rift with just a single sensor.
That’s all going to change in coming months. Oculus Touch, controllers with built-in motion sensors, will bring player’s hands into the virtual environment later this year. Support for additional sensors means games can support larger rooms with greater accuracy.
The HTC Vive currently supports only two trackers, meaning the Oculus is moving from lagging behind to seizing the initiative. No room-scale games are currently for sale on Oculus Home, and it’s not clear if that will change anytime soon. Plus, Oculus has been focused on the standing/sitting experience as a matter of principle, as setting up multiple sensors isn’t exactly straight forward.
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For one thing, you’ll need to invest in some long USB cables. Every Oculus sensor needs to be connected by USB, while the Vive’s Lighthouse trackers are wireless. For another, Oculus isn’t selling individual accessories at the moment, so most users won’t be able to take advantage of the improved tracking, at least yet.
But it’s nice to see Oculus support this technology, even if it’s only on the software side of things. This makes the upcoming release of the Oculus Touch, which will bring motion controls to the Rift, a lot more interesting.