Unity brings platform-independent hand tracking for VR developers


Image: Meta

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An extension for the Unity engine allows the implementation of hand tracking on hardware, including Meta Quest via OpenXR.

Developers using the Unity engine for hand tracking in VR have a new option. The “XR Hands” package provides access to hand tracking data according to the OpenXR standard. Meta Quest (2 & Pro) and Microsoft’s Hololens 2 are supported so far, and other OpenXR platforms with hand tracking are to follow.

In the case of Quest 2 (review), developers no longer need Meta’s OpenXR backend for manual tracking. Previous Oculus integration was based on OpenXR but used a proprietary extension and common agreement different from the standard.

OpenXR Hand Tracking for Quest (2 & Pro) and Hololens

The “XR Hands” package is based entirely on OpenXR and is therefore compatible with Unity plans such as the “XR Interaction Toolkit”. So far, “XR Hands” is still in preview version 1.1 for OpenXR.

Interested parties should add the package manually to the project manifest. The package does not implement manual tracking, says VR developer Dilmer Valecillos. Instead, it relies on properly updated plugins.

Unity Staff Research Engineer Eric Provencher points out that an update to OpenXR 1.6.0 would also be helpful. It also reminds developers that some hand tracking extensions need to be enabled in the OpenXR menu.

Manual Tracking 2.1 for Quest (2 and Pro)

Meta has also recently noticed progress in hand tracking with Quest headsets. The proprietary programming interface in version 2.1 would suffer from less frequent tracking crashes. The software also finds the “lost” hand faster after a loss of follow.

There are also improvements in accuracy, position prediction, and pinch gesture. Hand Tracking 2.1 was introduced with Quest System Update v47. Supported apps should automatically benefit from the improvements, Meta said.


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