I know I rag on virtual reality software and hardware a lot, but that’s mainly because it sucks. No, really. It’s true… the hardware is crude, most of the headsets are tethered, and the software – other than the free-look and 3D space motion controls – are oftentimes lame and unintuitive. However, we’re starting to finally see some kind of fruition in the evolution of VR interactivity thanks to companies like 3lb Games, who have a new SDK asset currently in beta for the Oculus Quest that allows developers to implement controller-free hand tracking into their games or applications.
The news rolled out recently, giving gamers and game developers an idea as to what to expect from the next generation of virtual reality software… assuming 3lb Games’ SDK is utilized properly.
So what exactly does it do? Well, it does exactly what the headline states it does. If you have an Oculus Quest, the lighthouses will read the motion data from your hands while the software will interpret that data via 3lb Games’ SDK in order to translate it into operable commands in-game.
There’s a video demonstration of it in action that you can check out below.
The SDK isn’t publicly available just yet, and 3lb is currently beta testing it since the Oculus version of the hands-free technology is still being prototyped. They explain in the press release…
“Oculus recently released a prototype of its hand-tracking system, allowing developers to control their Quest headsets with their hands alone. Being who we are, we jumped right into integrating this with our best-selling, top-rated VR movement system.
“The hand-tracking system is still in development, but we’re working to make sure our developers get a leg up on the eventual release. […]”
I’m really glad they did jump on this opportunity because the next logical step after recognizing hand movement is 3D body movement, at which point we’re just a couple of steps away from a VR holodeck.
If they can manage to make VR body tracking a thing, then you won’t need a haptic suit for movement. The only thing the suit would be good for is haptic feedback, such as vibrations, reactions, or biometric data.
This is the kind of technology that makes me excited for the future of VR, because right now VR really does suck and once it moves past this infantile stage of cumbersome hardware and expensive accessories, it might finally prove to be a worthwhile pursuit for the average consumer.
If you are a software developer interested in the development kit that 3lb Games is working on, you can visit their official website for more information or to download a demo. Alternatively, you can pick up the current iteration of the Unity 3D SDK from over on the Unity Asset Store for just $20.