When it eventually reaches consumers, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset may feature an outward-facing camera capable of tracking hand and finger gestures. That's just one revelation contained in Wired's lengthy profile of the company now owned by Facebook. Oculus is quickly approaching the limits of what it can do with head tracking, and the company is already putting higher resolution displays in developer kits. So gesture support seems like the natural next step, and Oculus is already exploring the possibilities. "You want it to feel like a virtuoso with an instrument," John Carmack said of optical tracking.
Aside from helping to enhance in-game experiences, Carmack raised another interesting use case: the additional camera could act as a pass-through and help wearers see what's going on around them in the real world. That could help prevent people from getting too disoriented in virtual reality and allow them to carry out quick tasks while still donning the Rift. Oculus is deep in other tests as well. It's developing haptic feedback as a way to make games (and the future social experiences that Mark Zuckerberg is undoubtedly dreaming up) feel all the more real. The big remaining question is when consumers will be able to get one. That's seemingly still up in the air, with Oculus offering potential timetables. Wired says it could arrive "later this year, or more likely early next year, or perhaps even not so early next year."