The future of VR is in your hands

Oculus is freeing our hands

Facebook recently added hand tracking to their Oculus Quest, eliminating the need for controllers. And with the latest update, they introduced an easier and smoother transition between using controllers and hand tracking.

For companies using VR – and for the end user most of all – hand tracking is going to make a colossal difference. It will increase the sense of immersion, reduce friction, and make the experience even more realistic.

Removing controller issues

As an immersive technology, Virtual Reality relies on the viewer believing in the universe he or she is placed in. Therefore, as developers, we put all our energy into developing believable universes with all it entails when it comes to both UI, UX, graphics and sound.

But two things can sometimes cause friction in getting into the experience: the controllers. For one thing, having to hold controllers in his or her hands is something that can remind the viewer that the VR surroundings are an illusion. And then some viewers have a hard time figuring out how to operate the controllers. The moment the viewer has to start fiddling with the controllers to figure out which button to press, he or she is instantly pulled out of the experience. That results in frustration and wasted time.

With hand tracking, those are problems of the past. Maybe your audience is unfamiliar with how to work a set of controllers, resulting in unnecessary friction and extra time spent on instructions. Hand tracking will solve that problem for you, provided your audience knows how to use their hands.

Training experiences closer to reality

The area of VR training experiences is where we foresee hand tracking making the biggest difference in the B2B market.

In VR training experiences, we prepare people for situations they might encounter in real life. Here, allowing people to ditch the controllers and use their hands instead will make a huge difference. And we can take it further than that.

Say you’re learning to become a train conductor. You’ve read the books, and while you’re not ready to steer a train in the real world just yet, it’s time for some more practical training. Sure, learning in a VR experience using controllers beats reading more books or watching another person steer a train. And sure, using your hands instead of controllers definitely is an upgrade. But where we really start to see a difference is when we combine hand tracking with physical feedback, so you’re actually sitting in the control room and can feel all the buttons and handles that would be there in a real train. That way, the haptics match what you see and feel in the experience.

Allowing the viewer to push physical buttons instead of a flat surface that instantly pulls the viewer out of the experience, is going to make the experience a lot more realistic, resulting in more effective training.

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