We still have a lot to learn about Microsoft’s six degrees of freedom (6DOF) controllers for its Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets, including going hands-on with them for ourselves. The devices we saw when Microsoft first introduced the controllers won’t be what we get as product, however.
Nadia Steer-Mobley, Principle Programme Manager of the Windows Devices Group said as much on-stage at WinHEC last month. She explained that the controllers revealed Microsoft’s Build Conference last May were a reference design and not, in fact, a product in itself.
“The motion controller is a reference design,” Steer-Mobley said. “I think this is an important distinction. It is not a product that is branded Microsoft, its availble to each of our Windows Mixed Reality HMD partners to offer with their bundle.”
That means that, if companies making Windows VR headsets want the 6DOF controllers to go with them, they’ll need to build their own to go with their respective headset. We know that Acer will be offering its own take on the controllers as part of a bundle launching later this year, but it’s not clear if other partners like Dell, HP and others will be making their own devices. When we’ve gone hands-on with Windows headsets they’ve been paired with an Xbox gamepad.
On paper, these controllers should mirror the functionality of both the Oculus Touch controllers and the HTC Vive wands, the difference being that these are tracked by sensors on the headset itself and not external devices. Again, we’re yet to go hands-on with these controllers (and they weren’t used during an on-stage demo at HEC), so we can’t comment as to if they offer the freedom and accuracy of the controllers for Rift and Vive, but we can’t wait to find out.