Facebook seems to be steadily turning the Oculus Quest standalone headset into a more advanced platform with each subsequent update to its system software.
Facebook says the latest update, version 16 of the system running Oculus Quest rolling out this week, allows the set up of “your roomscale Guardian boundaries without controllers by using hand tracking instead.” That’s a pretty remarkable addition given that since Quest started shipping in May 2019 it already featured the slickest approach to room set up in VR. You put on the headset and then use the controllers to paint the outline of your available space on the floor. The system was intuitive, quick, and gets you into a VR experience much faster than, say, mounting cameras or lasers to your walls and then tracing your space before putting the headset on.
With the addition of experimental controller-free hand tracking to the Quest in December, though, Facebook is building out a future ecosystem for VR (and AR) hardware that doesn’t even need controllers to operate. Some games are expected to be updated for compatibility with hand tracking and the addition of guardian set up without controllers is just one more piece of the puzzle.
Earlier this week an UploadVR analysis of driver code found by a developer suggested future VR headsets from Facebook might feature cameras which sample their surroundings at higher rates than the current Quest. That might result in more robust hand tracking in future systems. At the time of this writing, the hand tracking in Quest is still labeled “experimental” and your hands can seem to jitter or shake quite a bit while using the system. If you have a Quest you can download some hand tracking demos on SideQuest now, and we hope to see some improvements to the tracking quality before apps start adding support from the Oculus Store.