The latest 8.0 update to Oculus Browser adds experimental support for the Oculus Quest’s hand tracking feature. That means you can use your hands in WebXR apps, which are VR experiences that run natively on a browser page, without the need to download anything.
The feature won’t work in all WebXR apps natively and is not true hand tracking support just yet — it only enables hand tracking to work as an emulated controller. The update arrives just as Facebook adds enhanced support for hand tracking on Quest.
While the experimental feature is not listed in the Oculus Browser 8.0 release notes, a member of the Oculus WebVR/XR team, Artem Bolgar, tweeted about the addition earlier today. As noted by Artem, the support works by emulating controllers and doesn’t yet support tracking a full hand model like you would use in Oculus Home yet.
In the example app linked by Bolgar, the feature tracks your hands to move the in-game controller models in 6DoF. You can then point at objects using the cursor and pinch to make a selection, which will change the color of the cubes. Although you can see this displayed in the video below, it doesn’t show the pinching motion of my fingers, as there’s no in-game representation of the action (as the hand tracking is simply emulating controllers).
The new feature is not enabled by default and needs to be enabled first. You can enable it by navigating to chrome://flags in Oculus Browser and turning on the WebVR hand tracking option. There are a couple of different input methods, but the one we used in the video and the one that worked best is “hands and pointers.”
While the feature is only very experimental for now, and clearly not a proper implementation of full controller-free hand tracking in WebXR applications, it is the first step towards full support. This would open up a wealth of possibility, such as using your own hands to shoot webs as Spider-Man in a WebXR app that runs entirely through the Oculus Browser.
Oculus Browser Product Manager Jacob Rossi made clear that this “isn’t meant to be how we see hands [in Oculus Browser] working long term” and that they are looking for feedback, with no immediate plans to turn this iteration of WebXR hand tracking support on by default.
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