Hand tracking on Meta’s Quest VR headsets is about to get better. With the new v50 update, you’ll be able to “touch” things like menu buttons or virtual keyboards with just your hands, meaning it will be easier than before to use your hands for certain functions instead of relying on the Quest controllers or a pinch gesture.
When Meta first rolled out hand tracking to its Quest headsets in late 2019, you had to pinch to “select” something, meaning you’d pinch to scroll through text or to click a button. But the new hand-tracking features will be available as an experimental setting Meta calls “Direct Touch.” “Direct Touch is a major improvement to our hand tracking technology, offering a more intuitive and engaging way to interact with the system and 2D panels in general,” Meta wrote in a blog post.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg demoed the new hand tracking in an Instagram video where he uses his hands to scroll a list of apps, shoot a basketball in a game, and aim a pointer in a puzzle game. It looks very useful and could make interacting with virtual screens feel more like using the touchscreen on your phone.
However, this announcement is likely an attempt to get ahead of Apple’s long-rumored VR headset, which will reportedly have advanced hand tracking of its own. Apple is apparently planning to reveal the device at WWDC 2023, so we may not have to wait too much longer to know how Meta and Apple’s hand tracking will compare.
The Quest v50 adds some other handy features as well. One Quest Pro feature — the ability to call up a 2D app without closing a game — will be coming to Quest 2 headsets. And the Quest Touch Pro controllers should respond more quickly when you don your headset.