VR is still a niche. The cost, the hardware, the distinct lack of a killer app (though Google Earth is amazing in VR). There are still a lot of hurdles, though one of those might have just fallen. Oculus just announced a new method of tracking that could make controllers redundant. The Oculus Quest’s cameras can be used to track the user’s hands and fingers, without any additional hardware. Players can hopefully use their hands in VR as they would in real-life.
The short video below is one of those demonstrations that clumsily undermines their claims. The slick CGI and the bare minimum of practical examples are enough to give pause for thought. But here’s what they think it feels like.
But they showed a little bit more on stage, without all the CGI.
I’ve recently moved closer to my family, and each and every one of them has looked at my VR headset and asked if they can use it. Even with an office built to quickly set up VR, it’s still a struggle to get them comfortable and to explain the controls. The on-stage glimpse is something I’d absolutely love them to pull off smoothly. Which is still an issue with VR. I thought Valve’s Index controllers would lower the friction to getting into VR, but they’ve proved to be very clumsy in my tests. It’s harder to use them than the wands for most people. The finger tracking on the Quest will have to be incredibly precise simply because you know where your fingers are. You’re in absolute control, and any deviation from your body is going to destroy immersion.
There’s a lot that could still go wrong, but Facebook seems pretty confident in their ability to reduce VR all the way down to just one device. The beta will go live early in 2020.