Back in April, HTC launched the Vive Pro, a higher-end HTC Vive PC VR headset which added a 2nd outward-facing camera alongside a boost in display resolution. This camera setup has, until now, not seen any widespread use beyond AR experiments and niche enterprise applications, but now HTC have announced that they will be leveraging it to add native finger tracking to the Vive Pro.
Finger tracking for Vive Pro will be available to all registered VivePort developers via the Viveport SDK. This will not be a part of SteamVR and Valve seems to not be involved at all. We’ve reached out to HTC to clarify whether only Viveport apps will benefit from the input method.
Finger tracking could be useful for social VR, for passive experiences where a controller isn’t needed, and for enterprise applications. Some businesses already use the ‘Leap Motion’ finger tracking add-on, which works on all PC VR headsets, but HTC’s solution should work out of the box. The feature should also work fully in wireless mode with the HTC Vive Wireless Adapter.
HTC has also been researching hand tracking for its standalone (all-in-one) Vive Focus headset, which is currently released in China but not yet in the West. However, it seems that due to the much lower processing power on the mobile platform (compared to the PC a Vive Pro would be attached to) this is only limited gesture recognition rather than true tracking of each finger.
The standalone Vive Focus will get hand gesture recognition, but not full finger tracking
HTC hasn’t showed off the Vive Pro’s finger tracking to journalists yet, so questions remain about its accuracy, latency, occlusion resistance, and whether or not the field of view of the cameras leads to “pop in”. We hope it works well enough, though, because this feature could be a game changer for the enterprise market and passive VR experiences in general.