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Facebook's Prototype Touch Controllers Let You Feel The Heat Of Fire And Chill Of Ice

Facebook's Prototype Touch Controllers Let You Feel The Heat Of Fire And Chill Of Ice

It might seem a little early to ask, but what do you want to see in the next Oculus Touch? Improved gesture control? Added resistance to haptics? How about the ability to feel the chill of ice and the scorching heat of flames on your hands?

The latter concept might not be too far off. In fact, members of Facebook have already created a first prototype for an internal hackathon, and they showed it off this week via a live stream. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the social networking giant, was joined by several company figureheads like Head of Engineering Jay Parikh and CTO Mike Schroepfer, along with a member of what was nicknamed the Oculus ‘Fire and Ice’ team. The demonstration starts about a minute into the below video.

He presented two Touch controllers, each of them wired up to a concealed piece of hardware. Without entering VR, the Facebook team took turns in holding the controller around a campsite environment. With manual programming, they could hold their hands to a fire and feel the controller heat up, and then cool them by taking their hands away or holding other items around the camp. Blue and orange orbs would grow around the user’s virtual hands to visually communicate the intensity of the temperature.

According to the engineer, who wasn’t named, the prototype used two peltier coolers which “take advantage” of the “thermoelectric effect”, which turns a voltage difference into a temperature difference. The prototype obviously wasn’t perfect, and it was noted that after continued use the controller couldn’t get as cold as it would at the start of a play session.


As such, it’s not ready for integration with consumer tech right now. Apparently the concept would run down a smartphone battery in about 18 minutes, though the engineer did note that you could use “haptic illusions” to continue simulating the temperature without using the coolers at all times.

In other words, we could be getting a very early look at a feature for a future version of Touch. Of course, the first iteration only launched earlier this week, and we were very impressed with it, so we’re unlikely to see an updated release any time soon. Still, with how fast the VR industry moves it’s anyone’s guess as to when we’ll see Touch 2.

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