In context: Oculus has been internally beta testing hand tracking for its wireless Quest headset. It also released an SDK to allow developers to play with the technology. Up until now, the feature was only available in the main Oculus menu and some select built-in Quest programs.
Oculus announced on Monday that it was taking Quest hand tracking to “the next phase.” The feature goes into general release with the next firmware update due out later this week. Developers working with the hand-tracking SDK can submit new games or updates implementing the feature starting May 28. Three studios already have patches for their apps ready to go.
Waltz of the Wizard, Elixir, and The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets all have updates coming when the feature goes live. The first two are magical potion-making games. The third is a puzzle game with the player interacting with objects and characters in a miniaturized world, somewhat similar to Moss.
Two interactive films using hand tracking are also slated for a May 28 release. Gloomy Eye is a love story between a zombie boy and a normal girl and features the voice of Colin Ferrell. The second is titled The Line, featured at the Vinice Film Festival last year.
“The Line portrays a world of miniatures where routine is paramount and everything is always the same—until it’s not,” reads the film’s blurb.
More developers are undoubtedly implementing the feature, so we should see more titles going forward. It’s no reason to discard your recently updated Touch controllers just yet, as too many games still rely on them. Plus there is only so much that can be done with hand gestures alone. However, now that developers can start working on hand-tracking technology in earnest, we are likely to see inventive ways to make physical controllers unnecessary.
One weakness of many VR games is the lack of an immersive way to perform actions. For example, in Skyrim VR, wielding swords, shields, or magic is somewhat well-done using PlayStation Move or Oculus Touch controllers. However, picking up objects by pointing your non-animated hand at it, pulling a trigger or pushing a button, and having the object float in front of you takes you entirely out of the experience.
Hand tracking can add a more realistic way to interact with virtual worlds. Being able to pick up and manipulate objects in a way that makes sense is more immersive and fun. It will be interesting to see what developers do with the tech.