Starting this week, Oculus introduces native hand tracking for the Quest, its standalone virtual reality headset. Expected to be available in 2020, hand tracking will be available in the coming days as an experimental feature in the "v12" software release. Once this update is installed, you can enable hand tracking in the Experimental Features menu. You can then toggle between touch controllers and hand tracking with a toggle switch in the Oculus Home menu.
Before getting excited, hand-tracking at startup is not particularly supported. Oculus notes that the headset's library and store interface and the Oculus Browser and Oculus TV apps work. It is planned to provide the hand tracking developer toolset for app manufacturers next week. Hopefully, it will not take too long for support to keep current apps and games and the next apps up to date.
Still, pushing the hand-tracking is a big deal. To integrate your hands into VR, Oculus and other headset manufacturers have relied on controllers, each with a confusing array of buttons, sometimes requiring external cameras and tracking devices to track your hand movements in the virtual space.
Oculus is able to integrate your hands into VR on the Quest without needing anything other than the Touch Controller. This is achieved through the inside-out tracking system of the headset, a series of integrated cameras and sensors that determine where your body and hands are located in a virtual space in relation to the headset.
According to a September Facebook post, Oculus can now track hands without the controllers with the same hardware set thanks to "new techniques for deep learning and model-based tracking" If you say you no longer have the touch controllers for hand-tracking You can even track your individual finger moments more precisely and realistically by operating your hands as usual.
Pushing this feature out will now open the door to the next wave of games and apps that support hand and fine-tuning gestures. More important to Oculus, however, is that the company is competing against competing VR platforms that are still based on controllers, such as the new high-end index headset from Valve and the Vive device family from HTC.