December 10, 2019 – Oculus has announced the release of hand tracking on Oculus Quest, allowing users to interact in VR without controllers. From gesturing and communicating with others to picking up and manipulating objects, the use of our hands plays an important role in unlocking the feeling of true presence in a virtual space, according to Oculus.
Hand tracking is being released as an early consumer feature on Quest starting this week, and as an SDK for developers next week. Quest owners simply need to update their software to v12 when it rolls out, and then turn on hand tracking in the Experimental Features menu to be among the first to try it. In this initial release, users will be able to use their hands to navigate and interact within Quest’s Home interfaces like Library and Store, plus in select first-party apps like the Oculus Browser and Oculus TV. Quest even allows users to set a floor height for a stationary Guardian boundary using their hands—no controller necessary. To switch between hands and Touch controllers, there is now a new toggle switch in the Oculus Home menu that users can select.
Furthermore, with the new SDK rolling out next week, developers and creators now have the power to unlock controller-free hand interactions in Quest apps for the first time. The new functionality will inevitably mean new experiences with hands for Quest users: from more expressive gestures in social apps to more efficient workflows in business training modules. Another benefit will be that hand tracking will likely make VR experiences more approachable for newcomers by removing the need to learn controller functions. For those who aren’t familiar with VR, or any sort of advanced computing technology for that matter, keeping interactions as natural as possible is always beneficial, as it means any period of adjustment can be reduced, as controls do not need to be learned. Instead, users can interact with the virtual world in exactly the same way that they would in the real world, with the use of their hands. And for those who already own an Oculus Quest headset, when the hardware melts away they can be fully immersed in VR while connecting with others in a seamless, intuitive way.
Oculus believes that more and more experiences on the Oculus platform will support hand tracking over time, and that this week’s announcement is just the beginning. The company has stated that it will continue to add new features and functionality to improve the experience of hand tracking on Quest in 2020.
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