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Oculus hints at virtual reality controller

Gear VR is an upcoming portable virtual reality headset, and we've already discussed the tricks that needed to be done to Android to get the hardware working well.

The headset is being demoed with Samsung's own Bluetooth controller, but Oculus founder Palmer Luckey also pointed out that the hardware would work with any Bluetooth controllers, and things like media viewing and simple games could be handled with the touchpad and buttons built into the headset.

But he admitted that traditional controllers aren't the best thing for VR. "I don’t think that’s necessarily the right input for what you said, rich interactions in virtual reality," he said. "That will come down the road."

This raises the obvious question, when is Oculus going to create its own controller for virtual reality games?

"When are we going to create it," Luckey responded, "or when are we going to announce it?" This is an interesting response, but Luckey backtracked nearly immediately when Polygon asked if this meant that a controller was being developed.

"Saying that something is in development is a hefty commitment, I’ll say that we are doing a lot of research and development into input, and we know that game pads are pretty terrible in terms of living up to what we all want in virtual reality, which is the ability to see our hands, and to interact with the world in a natural way," he said.

He's right, one of the most disturbing aspects of virtual reality is feeling like you're inside a scene, and then when you lift your hands in front of your eyes you see ... nothing. It creates a sharp dissonance between what your body feels and what your mind believes, and can lead to all sorts of unpleasant sensations.

Having a true 3D controller that allows you to see your hands and to reach into the experience and manipulate objects naturally would go a long way towards making VR feel "real." Oculus also recently acquired the Carbon Design Group, the company responsible for the design of the Xbox 360 controller and the Kinect.

"When are we going to create it," Luckey responded, "or when are we going to announce it?"

"As part of the deal, the team will officially become a key component of the product engineering group at Oculus, operating from the Carbon studio in the Seattle area. They'll also be working closely with the Oculus R&D team based out of Redmond," the release stated at the time. Oculus has the means and the talent to create a controller, but it still could be a ways off.

"It’s really a difficult problem. There’s a reason no one has made a really great device that can do all of these things well enough for VR," Luckey said. "But it’s something that we’re spending a lot of time working on, because we know it’s extremely important."