Update: This story has been updated with additional information from a recent Oculus blog post.
Earlier this year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg teased a new form of input being developed over at Oculus: hand tracking gloves. We only saw them through a picture at first, but now a video has surfaced online showing them in action.
An Oculus video posted last week, and featured in a recent blog post from Michael Abrash, shows what looks like the same gloves in action. It reveals a marker-based solution that uses external tracking cameras. “Unfortunately, hands have about 25 degrees of freedom and lots of self-occlusion,” Abrash said. “Right now, retroreflector-covered gloves and lots of cameras are needed to get to this level of tracking quality.” Perhaps one day the company might be able to fit all of that into sensors like those used for the Rift and Touch, but right now it requires that elaborate rig constructed around Zuckerberg in the picture he teased. Not very consumer-friendly.
Given the timing of the video, we wonder if Oculus will be showcasing these gloves at SIGGRAPH when it gets underway next week.
You shouldn’t expect an actual product to come out of this anytime soon; Oculus won’t be releasing any new hardware in 2017 and the Touch controllers are still the primary form of input for its VR experiences having only released late last year. It’s more than likely that this is still an R&D project that’s not even confirmed for a consumer release. We’d love to know if these gloves have any kind of haptic feedback to react to actions like pressing buttons.
Accurate finger tracking is another important step towards fully VR immersion, but actually replicating the feel and resistance of surfaces and objects in VR is another challenge entirely.
It’s exciting to think, though, about what might be possible with a combination of glove and Touch controller, giving us unprecedented hand-presence in the virtual world. That said the finger tracking on Valve’s new Knuckles controllers for SteamVR offers a similar sort of experience already.