Oculus Rift Gains Multi-Camera Support As Touch Launch Approaches

by Joe Durbin • July 15th, 2016

Yesterday, the Oculus Rift received an update to its firmware and to it’s content platform, Oculus Home. The 1.6 update brought automatic app updates and bandwidth limits to Oculus Home. On the firmware side, the differences seemed negligible, until one eagle eyed Rift owner discovered that, after the update, it was possible to connect up to four Rift tracking cameras simultaneously.

The ability to connect multiple cameras may seem like a somewhat random feature to VR newcomers, but to the established community this will make plenty of sense considering what the remainder of 2016 has in store for the Rift. Later this year Oculus is planning on releasing Oculus Touch, finally bringing hand-tracked VR controllers to the Rift. These devices transport your hands along with you as you enter the virtual world — creating more immersive and active experiences than a gamepad can provide.

Multiple cameras will be required to properly utilize this upcoming technology. It’s already been confirmed that Oculus Touch will ship with this additional camera in the box as well, so two cameras is the expected setup needed if you want to use both the headset and controllers.

oculus-touch-new-design

Oculus touch controllers

Two cameras is all well and good then, but four? The additional cameras might could conceivably allow Oculus to compete more directly with its chief rival: the HTC Vive. The Vive’s two major claims to fame are: hand tracked controllers, and “room-scale” experiences. Room-scale is the term given to VR Experiences that let you walk, jump, crouch, turn around, and otherwise explore a digital environment to your heart’s content.

As of today, the Rift is incapable of delivering room-scale at the same level as the Vive, with the main problem being occlusion. To put it simply, it’s easy for a single camera to lose track of where a headset or controllers are in a room. Each additional camera you add can increase the size of the room that can be explored in VR. At the same time, the additional cameras help decrease the chances either the headset or the controllers are ever in a position where they can’t be located by a camera. This would be an enormous step toward fostering parity with the Vive.

However, this remains in the realm of theory until someone actually hooks up four cameras at once and tests them out alongside the Oculus Touch controllers.

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  • unreal_ed

    Whoa 4! Nice ! That’ll make for some pretty huge spaces or really hard to lose tracking for those dedicated to that.

    My question is how do they position? How do you calibrate? Can you have one just above you? Who even has 1+4 accessible USB 3 ports?

    • Mane Fit

      u could always use a hub

      • unreal_ed

        I doubt it. My guess is if they made it require USB 3 it uses the full (or near full) USB 3 data throughput. A hub doesn’t increase the information throughput of the cable or the port which is standardized.

        • Aaron Hillaker

          I use a hub for my single camera, soooooooooooooooooooooo yeah.

          • yag

            Weird… so USB 3 is not needed for the higher bandwidth, but maybe for the higher frequency or the higer
            wattage?

          • Mark Graham

            It’s more due to do with latency, USB3 is far more accurate than USB2

          • yag

            yeah, higher frequency = lower latency, I thought 1ms was good enough tho (well it was good enough for DK2, even for ATW)

        • Mane Fit

          it all still using the same bus once it hits the MB I have and ext. HD, my oculus, the sensor, hotas, and web cam plugged into usb 3.0 ports on my pc all is working fine and it’s not like they each get their own bus on the MB

          • unreal_ed

            and that’s when you’re using all of them at the same time?

          • Mane Fit

            no issues

        • Yes, HUB don’t extend data throughtput, but kept in mind this:
          USB 1.1: do 1,5 MB/s
          USB 2.0: do 60 MB/s
          USB 3.0: do 625 MB/s[1]
          USB 3.1: do 1,25 GB/s
          (on paper)

          USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than 2.0, maybe cameras need for example only 200MB/s? Then we still can plug 2 cameras to one hub + some mouse, keyboard, gamepad or bluetooth. ;P And from developer point there is no need to make camera use full bandwith, if it can use less. At the end sorry for my english. ;p

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      and not to mention that all of the camera have to be plugged in the PC, lots of cable hassle if you want to cover a wide room…

  • DavidR

    More sloppiness from UploadVR.

    1) The update was to the Oculus Runtime + Oculus App, not to Oculus Home. (Home is the name of just the virtual interface contained within the Runtime. Home itself has not been changed in any visible way in the last several Runtime updates.)

    2) The Oculus Runtime already supported multiple tracking cameras, it was just previously limited to two (the Touch’s default configuration)–the 1.6 update just increased that limit from two to four.

    3a) Rift with Oculus Touch’s included second tracking camera placed in the same arrangement as two Vive lighthouses has the exact same occlusion characteristics (this is not a technical issue up for debate but rather dependent on simple laws of physics).

    3b) Four tracking cameras would indeed increase tracking robustness even further, but this is not required to match the occlusion-resistance of two Vive lighthouses and in fact the the occlusion-resistance of four Oculus tracking cameras should actually surpass that of two Vive lighthouses.

  • Colin Harvey

    That looks like a cool thing, for public or commercial demonstrations. Maybe having a shop that offers large play space enviroment, I’d imagine it’d be pretty expensive for just home use, of course there will be some people who won’t hesistate to get it though

  • usherjerksoffsonyfanboys

    Dammit Oculus u need to get ur shit together and make some serious announcement around touch and roomscale support.

    I’m about to pull the trigger in 3 weeks for a VR headset, tried the Vive and loved it. But I’d like to make a good comparison buy but if u don’t release any info soon, I’m going with the vive.

  • Roger Bentley

    Yes Oculus listen to Usher and watch Reality check Vr videos if he can do 360 room sale videos with 2 cameras with all the steam vr games why arent you promoting this ??? and thats with 2 cameras 3 would make things equal and 4 would be over kill. Now roll out touch so i can play raw data.

  • I really want to have room scale vr, but I am not a fan of the touch pads on the Vive’s motion controllers (I bought a Steam controller and hated it for the same reason). The Oculus touch controllers look like they are very well designed. I like how you can use the controllers for traditional gaming, since they have standard buttons and analog sticks.

    • Shawn Blais Skinner

      Almost every room-scale game out there uses the Thumbpad as a big button (if at all), and for that function it works good.

      I do like the choice to add joysticks to the Touch rather than the trackpad, but I’m not at all convinced they will be very useful for room scale. You really don’t ever want to be hitting buttons in room-scale, it’s the antithesis of feeling like you’re in the experience. One button to bring up a menu is cool, another maybe to cycle some weapons.. but beyond that you start to get really annoyed with having to remember button combos for the physical hands in front of your face. I can’t think of many experiences that would use a joystick for anything other than maybe scrolling a menu…

  • RancidHeart

    My experience with the Oculus taught me that more than one sensor is necessary. Several times while playing, the screen drifts. A good example is Elite dangerous. Sometimes I find myself looking out the side window while fleeing interdiction. Other times too… the sensor loses track of me and I have to restart Oculus. The circle I’m aloud to stand in is not very big. If I lean forward too much, the screen fades and stops moving. I still love it. It is wicked cool. I made it sound bad… but it works more often than not. More sensors would make it work better, I’m sure.

    • TheMCPowerz

      Weird, might be your camera setup. I get 10 x 9 feet of room perfectly tracked. Screen drifting is super minimal. It might do with your environment, like obstacles, lighting, time of day. Anyway things will get better in the future.

      • RancidHeart

        I’m sure it will, with updates and upgrades. I’ve got my chair mounts for my keyboard mouse and joysticks in the mail. I’m thinking I’m sitting to close. Lately I’ve been having an issue with Elite Dangerous cutting out on the Rift. Screen goes black. Still plays on monitor. I think that’s an issue with the game though.

        • David Napoleon

          I’ve never had that issue with ED

  • Armada Dee

    The vive doesn’t let you really do that lmao, you can’t run or do that sh** do you even have a clue of what you are talking about? It just has a safety feature that lets you know where walls are at, no jumping no running or whatever, DONT talk about shit you have no clue of, it just makes you a pathetic dumbass fanboy that has no clue of what he’s talking about, the oculus rift is the much better VR, there is no competition even, why would the rift compete with something so poor and unoriginal the vive is just another failing copycat idea just like Sony… Just stfu the rift is the much better VR and everyone knows that unless they are in denial like you kid… The vive can’t even compete, it’s resolution, games, functionality, price, controllers are a joke, it’s just shit compared so don’t talk about competition, what a clueless dumb*ss? Don’t be stupid and stfu don’t be pathetic if you have no clue of what you’re talking about. You’re another clueless fanboy fa* kid aren’t you? Just stfu kid it’s not its fault that your mom bought this. Oh the irony lol. Go cry about your shit vive somewhere else. Does any fa* believe this crap you say? No offense kid?