Is hand tracking the future of VR? Opinions are divided

    The controversy began last week, when Devin Reimer wrote an essay for UploadVR anticipating a significant change in the VR market toward hand tracking.

    Reimer was the CEO and CTO of Owlchemy Labs, the VR firm that created titles such as Job Simulator and Vacation Simulator. The latter may be played and completed with simply hand tracking. on 2023, Reimer launched his own firm specializing on accessible VR games with hand tracking. Reimer wrote the post with prospective headsets in mind, such as the Apple Vision Pro, which use hand-tracking instead of VR controllers.

    “As someone that has been working almost exclusively with hand tracking for the last 2+ years, I can tell you the state of the art is a huge leap from what is visible now. Combine that with the constant and continuous improvement to the quality of the underlying hand tracking? The landscape in 2 years is going to look quite different.”

    Reimer expects that hand tracking will become the standard input, and studios that continue to build for VR controllers must prepare appropriately. The category will grow “more and more niche.”

    The triumph of Apple Vision Pro is not certain

    Denny Unger, a VR industry veteran and CEO of Cloudhead Games, refuted that forecast in a video. His team created the popular rhythm shooter Pistol Whip, which uses VR controllers.

    Unger makes several points, including the following: it is too early to tell if Apple Vision will be a success; the device will have a relatively small install base, at least at launch; other manufacturers will not necessarily rely on tracking; and hand trakt will not be able to cover the entire spectrum of possible VR experiences.

    Reimer reacted to Unger with a Tiktok movie that was online yesterday but is no longer available today, for unclear reasons.

    Hand tracking or controllers? It doesn’t have to be either/or

    A former Owlchemy Labs developer who worked with the company for many years on controller and hand tracking interfaces also spoke forward. He largely agrees with Reimer, saying that hand tracking exclusivity is more frequent than many people (including himself) would like to believe.

    At the same time, the developer argues that the introduction of hand tracking is bad for the budding VR sector since it fractures the market and compels existing companies to start again with something totally new. In this regard, his logic is comparable to Denny Unger’s.

    Personally, I’m skeptical about hand tracking. Based on my experience, I can’t see the technology being useful for anything other than manipulating a spatial interface and perhaps casual games, even if it improves fivefold over Quest 3’s (which I deactivate 99 percent of the time).

    In my opinion, hardware manufacturers should offer both and let consumers choose which input method they want to use because they enable very different types of experiences.

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