Microsoft just announced new hand controllers for its mixed reality VR headsets. They appear similar to Oculus Touch and HTC Vive controllers, except they don't require any external sensors, beacons or cameras. They will be offered as part of an affordable VR bundle by the end of the year.
The pair of controllers include several interactive elements, such as a thumbstick, trackpad, trigger and grab buttons, topped off by a ring of tracking LEDs. As of now, capable controllers are the best way to use your own hands in virtual reality – a key step toward immersive, entertaining and useful VR experiences.
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The controllers don't need any external sensors set up around the room, because Windows' emerging mixed reality headsets contain inside-out tracking technology, which aims to eliminate the need for setting up peripherals in a designated VR space.
Of course, the true test of these controllers will be putting them to use with a paired headset. A streamlined VR setup is convenient, but largely moot if tracking is poor or performance is otherwise spotty. Microsoft announced the controllers during the keynote at its Build conference today, but did not demo them live onstage.
The new controllers will be available for the 2017 holiday season. Microsoft will partner with Acer to offer a US$399 VR headset and controller bundle, with more compatible headsets expected down the line. For another glimpse, check out the video below.