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Surprise! Oculus Quest becomes first VR set with native hand tracking — this week, Ars Technica

Surprise! Oculus Quest becomes first VR set with native hand tracking — this week, Ars Technica


    

      Look, ma … hands –

             

Goes live “this week;” promising October tease has us cautiously optimistic.

      

      

  • First of its kind, for a reason

    Normally in VR, users grab onto controllers full of triggers and buttons. For some VR software, a piece of handheld plastic makes sense: it can sell the sensation of holding a weapon or VR item, and it adds haptic feedback like rumbling when your real-life hand gets near VR objects. But there’s something to be said about lifting your empty hands in the VR sky and seeing your real fingers wiggle, which, based on pre-release tests, we can confirm Oculus Quest hand tracking nails.

    We’ve seen hand-tracking experiments on other VR headsets, but these have largely come in the form of proprietary add -ons like Leap Motion, which require additional hardware and a bolted-on rendering pipeline. These systems have been impressive enough as tested at various tech expos, but VR hand tracking has always been underwhelming in execution – (just) ************************************************ imprecise enough, in terms of recognizing individual fingers and “pinch” gestures, compared to the “it just works “appeal of a compatible controller.

    Quest’s native hand-tracking support, on the other hand, taps into the headset’s existing camera array, and it may very well work without adding a processing burden to the system (though we’ll have to wait for the SDK to know for sure). That reduced friction is the best news for a hand-tracking system that, at launch, is admittedly simple and limited.

    “Fwshht” like Wolverine, but not yet

    Right now, Quest turns your empty hands into laser pointers that can manipulate menus. Leave your hands somewhat open, like you’re about to pinch a pesky fly buzzing around, to make a pointer appear on a distant menu, as aimed by your hands’ orientation. Quickly pinch your index finger and thumb to “click” any menu buttons, or hold your pinch to drag menu elements like a scrolling list or volume slider.

    Based on

    ******************** tests in October, we know that the system natively recognizes a few hand gestures, particularly the balling of fists. (In one fantasy-themed test, I could dunk my real-life hands in a vat of virtual goo, then ball my hands into fists to make Wolverine-like blades “fwsshht” out of my virtual knuckles.) But those tests revealed two Weakes: the inability to recognize hands when they are touching each other, and a relatively narrow “vision cone” for hand tracking. If your hands aren’t front-and-center in your VR field of vision, they’ll vanish and require an awkward moment to reappear.

    What’s more, this update puts the ball in other VR headset makers’ courts.Valve Index, and most Windows Mixed Reality sets, include a similar array of outward-facing cameras; Oculus’ primary differentiation here is software engineering, not unique cameras. Who’s next to step up to hand tracking?

    ************************************ Listing image by Oculus**********************************

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