Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has kicked off Oculus Connect 6 with several exciting announcements, the biggest being an update for Oculus Quest which will see hand-tracking added to the system in 2020.
The Oculus Touch provides a great way of interacting with digital worlds on Oculus Quest but the company also knows that they can be a barrier, as people still need to learn how to use them. The most natural way to touch and control VR experiences is direct with your hands, and there are companies such as Leap Motion which have been working in this space.
Now Facebook has confirmed not only work in this field but that it’s so far along, an update due to be released in early 2020 will make hand-tracking possible on Oculus Quest (no mention of Oculus Rift S however). Facebook Reality Labs has achieved this using AI and neural networks to recognise your hands.
In an Oculus Blog post, the company explains: “What began as a research project at Facebook Reality Labs has been brought to life through close collaboration with our product and design teams to bring about a new paradigm for VR input. Our computer vision team developed a new method of using deep learning to understand the position of your fingers using just the monochrome cameras on Quest today—no active depth-sensing cameras, additional sensors, or extra processors required. This technology approximates the shape of your hand and creates a set of 3D points to accurately represent your hand and finger movement in VR.”
When hand-tracking arrives next year for Oculus Quest it’ll be an experimental feature for consumers and an SDK for developers. Which means devs will be able to start creating apps which support hand tracking to create a more natural gameplay experience.
What’s unclear at the moment is whether the hand tracking can be added to software already available on Oculus Store, and what apps and videos will support this feature for users to test. Hand tracking without using expensive gloves has always been a bit of a mixed experience, with the demo being held at OC6 VRFocus will bring you further details soon.