Meta Quest 2: Update v50 brings direct touch controls
- Added direct touch demo video by Mark Zuckerberg
Update, February 18, 2023:
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows a short demo video of the new Touch feature on Instagram. It's coming "soon" with the new v50 update and works in VR and mixed reality modes on the Quest 2. No word on body tracking, though, which seems to be further out.
Original article from February 12, 2023:
Direct touch and body tracking spotted in Meta Quest v50
New controls might soon arrive on the Meta Quest. Direct touch hand-tracking has been spotted in the upcoming v50 Meta Quest update, along with a hint about body tracking.
In the next v50 system software update, owners of the Quest 2 and Quest Pro could be getting a nice upgrade to hand tracking and controller input. This could allow you to reach out with your real hands or virtual hands via controllers and tap panels rather than pointing at the interface from a distance.
Recent videos from the lucky few that are on Quest public test channel (PTC) show that this new direct touch feature works well enough that you can type on the virtual keyboard with your index fingers. Tapping small controls, such as the X that closes tabs in the Quest browser, also appears to be no problem.
While controller input is generally quite accurate, selecting buttons and typing with hand tracking is currently done by pinching, which is not as reliable.
The laser pointer method and pinching remain even when direct touch is enabled, so this doesn't get rid of the lines that radiate from the controllers or your hands. Here are Meta's notes about this upcoming feature:
"Direct Touch: Add the ability to directly tap and scroll on panels with your hands or controllers. Upon activating, your hands will appear differently."
Direct touch isn't a new concept and is already possible with some games and apps, such as Meta's First Hand and Immersed. Soon Meta could make this a system-wide feature.
Direct touch in action
The new v50 features were first spotted by Reddit user deliciouspotato2, who shared a video showing the option in Experimental features and demonstrated how it works.
A longer video was posted on YouTube by Immersed Robot, who noticed a conflict when one hand is showing the pointer, and the other is close enough to a panel for direct touch to activate.
Immersed Robot also pointed out that the new input control is nice but isn't a completely natural feeling since you are "touching empty air" and there is no sensation associated with the touch.
This could be a good use case for a future Meta smartwatch that could provide haptic feedback. A haptic buzz could signal that a tap has been registered, and a mild sustained rumble could give feedback that scrolling or dragging is in progress.
Haptic feedback would be possible when holding the controllers, but it's unclear whether the v50 update takes advantage of this capability. Early testers of v50 PTC didn't mention any vibration.
Body tracking hints
Another detail uncovered by deliciouspotato2 and shared in a separate Reddit post indicates that a new body-tracking feature might be coming soon.
In the Quest v50 PTC update, a new Body tracking permission appears in App permissions. Redditer deliciouspotato2 didn't observe any effects related to this permission, but Meta might finally be closer to implementing legs and leg-tracking, something that was teased last year.
Body tracking was mentioned in developer documentation last year. At that time, there was speculation that this could be a special feature coming exclusively to the Project Cambria headset. Now that headset is on the market as the Quest Pro and doesn't include body tracking sensors, leaving this a mystery.
While the company has managed to simulate body tracking with the hardware and sensors included with the Quest 2, that's an added burden on its aging processor and could explain why this advanced feature hasn't been implemented outside the lab.
Another possibility is that Meta could be exploring the use of body-tracking accessories. Sony released inexpensive body tracking pucks that fit into bands for the wrists and ankles. The Sony Mocopi trackers work with VRChat in the Meta Quest and in PC VR.
SlimeVR is another third-party body tracking solution that works with the Quest in standalone and PC VR modes. With so many options and a clear demand for this technology, Meta could be working on a system-wide API.
It's important to keep in mind that features and permissions that are seen in the v50 PTC might not be implemented in the general release of the next Quest system update. Body tracking permission appears to be a feature that is in the early stages, while direct touch is much more likely to arrive and seems to be working well in the video demonstrations.