Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the social network’s Oculus virtual reality unit would debut a feature that enables its Quest VR headsets to track people’s hands, so they don’t have to use controllers.
The hand-tracking feature will be available in early 2020, Zuckerberg said Wednesday during the annual Oculus developer conference in San Jose. Zuckerberg pitched the hand-tracking update as way for people to interact inside virtual worlds in a more life-like manner without having to hold cumbersome controllers.
“So this means no controllers, no straps, no external sensors,” Zuckerberg said. “Just full range of motion with your hands.”
The executive also said that “people have bought more than $100 million of content on the Oculus store,” but he did not cite a specific dollar figure. Although Facebook has spent billions of dollars investing in virtual reality under the belief that the interactive technology represents a major evolution in computing, the technology has yet to become a mainstream hit.
Oculus will also release an update in November that will let Quest VR wireless headset owners connect their devices to gaming PCs with USB-C cables, Zuckerberg revealed, letting users access VR content developed for the Oculus Rift VR headset that requires a computer to function.
Zuckerberg also suggested that Facebook’s recent acquisition of the neural software company CTRL-Labs would eventually benefit the company’s VR technologies by letting people interact in virtual worlds merely by thinking.
“In the future, we want to get to an input where you just think something and it happens,” Zuckerberg said. “This will be a number of years before it gets into products we’re shipping.”
In 2020, Zuckerberg announced, Oculus will debut a new VR app called Facebook Horizon, which appears to be a mix between the world-building game Minecraft and the online social game Second Life. Horizon will replace the company’s previous Spaces VR app, which the company debuted in 2017 and pitched as its core social VR app for Oculus devices.
Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president who oversees VR and augmented reality, revealed that Facebook is developing augmented reality glasses that would overlay digital objects onto the physical world.
Bosworth didn’t reveal many details of the company’s AR glasses, only to say that “we have a few working prototypes” that “are a few years out.”
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