September 25, 2019 – At OC6 this week, Oculus has announced that hand tracking will be coming to Oculus Quest, allowing users to be more expressive in VR and connect on a deeper level in social experiences. Oculus stated that not only will the current community of VR enthusiasts and early adopters benefit from more natural forms of interaction, hand tracking on Quest will also reduce the barriers of entry to VR for people who may not be familiar or comfortable with gaming controllers. Furthermore, a user’s hands are always with them and always on—meaning users don’t have to grab a controller, keep it charged, or pair it with the headset to jump into VR. Something which the company hopes will greatly increase the use cases of VR on Oculus Quest.
The new technology was demonstrated at OC6, and will launch on Quest in early 2020 as an experimental feature for consumers and an SDK for developers. This means that, starting early next year, VR devs will be able to build and ship experiences that let Quest owners use their own hands in VR without controllers or other peripheral devices—and the Quest community can get an early taste of what’s in store by opting in to hand tracking early next year.
What began as a research project at Facebook Reality Labs has been brought to life through close collaboration with product and design teams to bring about a new paradigm for VR input. The computer vision team at Oculus developed a new method of using deep learning to understand the position of a user’s fingers using just the monochrome cameras on Quest today—no active depth-sensing cameras, additional sensors, or extra processors required, according to the company. The technology approximates the shape of the hand and creates a set of 3D points to accurately represent hand and finger movement in VR.
Video credit: Oculus/YouTube