In the ever-evolving world of virtual reality (VR), the battle between hand-tracking and traditional controllers continues to heat up. While Apple is diving headfirst into the hand-tracking realm with its Vision Pro, Meta, one of its main competitors, has taken a slightly different approach. In a recent announcement, Meta unveiled significant improvements to hand-tracking on its Quest platform, claiming that it’s now “almost as responsive as controllers.” In this article, we delve into these improvements and what they mean for the future of VR.
Quest’s Hand-Tracking Evolution
Meta introduced its Hand-Tracking 2.2 improvements, first announced in late July, with a focus on enhancing hand responsiveness and experimenting with new features that may find their way into the anticipated Quest 3. These advancements aim to reduce hand-tracking latency and provide a more seamless VR experience for users.
Reduced Latency for Enhanced Realism
One of the standout features of Hand-Tracking 2.2 is the substantial reduction in latency. Meta claims that users can expect a latency reduction of “up to 40%” during regular use and an astonishing “up to 75%” reduction during fast movements. This boost in fast movement latency is attributed to the introduction of a new Fast Motion Mode (FMM), designed for high-energy games like fitness and rhythm games where quick and precise movements are crucial.
Quest Pro Gets Experimental Features
The v56 software update isn’t exclusive to the standard Quest; it’s also making its way to the Quest Pro. Alongside this release come two intriguing experimental features: Multimodal tracking and Capsense Hands.
Multimodal tracking is a feature that promises to usher in mixed-input style gaming experiences. This includes the ability to seamlessly switch between hand and controller gameplay, facilitating instant transitions between the two modes. Additionally, it aims to enhance the social aspect of VR by improving user interactions when using a single controller. Currently, this feature is available only on Quest Pro for experimentation, but Meta intends to expand its support to other devices in the future.
Capsense Hands for a Natural Feel
Capsense Hands is another exciting addition, allowing developers to display a natural hand model visualization on top of or instead of the user’s controller. This feature adds a layer of immersion to VR experiences, making users feel even more connected to their virtual environment.
A Developer’s Perspective
Meta emphasizes the significance of hand-tracking from a developer’s viewpoint. Integrating Hand Tracking into VR applications can make interactions more natural and intuitive. This deepens the immersive experience and assists newcomers in getting up to speed with VR more quickly. With the enhancements brought by Hands 2.2, developers can offer users greater flexibility to tailor their experiences, regardless of whether they choose to use their hands or traditional controllers.
Meta hints at more hand-tracking upgrades on the horizon. The company is gearing up for its annual Meta Connect developer conference on September 27th, where we can anticipate a wealth of information, including a potential release date, regarding the much-anticipated Quest 3 headset. This headset aims to bring the advanced functionality of the Quest Pro to the consumer market at a competitive price point of $500.