VR Hand tracking is the ability to detect the user’s hands. It lets her interact with the virtual environment without any controllers in her palms. Now anyone, even non-gamers, can interact in VR without having to learn how to use a hand controller. For many hand controllers may feel threatening, hand tracking feels natural. It will help users be more immersed as their experience is closer to the reality. It lowers the accessibility barrier to the virtual worlds, allowing anyone instantly in. It also reduces the costs of using VR, increasing further the ROI of VR-based projects.
VR hand tracking is offered by several vendors. Oculus Quest offers an integrated experience. UltraLeap provides and external tracker to be adapted on your favorite VR headset. As the technology improves, more and more details are captured by the hand tracking sensors. It enables delicate and precise finger-based manipulations of objects.
Here are some examples of usages where hand tracking brings additional benefits.
Before building a new factory or a new office tower, manufacturing a new product, you can review your project in VR. Getting rid of the controllers in your hands removes one barrier to fully grasp the environment you’re exploring (with a 3dRudder at the feet). And for reviewing an object, having the ability to directly manipulate it with your hands adds to your ability to notice issues or suggest improvements. Finally, the review can be conducted by anyone, not just people used to gamepads.
The main issue with VR training is you have to train people on using the hand controllers first. This represents a significant waste of time and money. Furthermore, it kills the immersion as the users’ focus is taken away from the primary topic of the training. Also, when users must move while they simultaneously interact with their hands, the mental charge may be overwhelming for many. Interacting with bare hands, and moving with a foot controller, is natural and will get the users focused.
When working together using a social app, hand tracking is a far better option for its ability to let users talk with their hands. Having hand controllers in the palms prevents this level of communication to happen. It deprives the conversation from an important part of its content. This is why headset manufacturers invest so much in hand tracking and other tools like eye tracking and face tracking. Because at the end, the goal is to render the fullness of a real world conversation. This reduces the mental charge of users that affects them today when using Teams, Zoom or VR social applications.
The benefits of implementing hand tracking in VR applications are significant. As with any new technology, its implementation may seem challenging first. The same was true at the launch of the iPhone for the adoption of touchscreen-based interactions, now totally ubiquitous. Application designers and developers should take the leap and integrate this functionality in their own projects. The results will be very rewarding to them and their users.