Meta Quest: New developer tools could improve haptics
Two new developer tools are said to enable high-fidelity haptics on Meta Quest headsets.
Haptic effects are an indispensable element of virtual reality, making digital worlds tangible and adding a unique immersive quality to the game that goes beyond visual stimuli.
Last week, Meta announced the release of two new software tools to help developers more quickly design, test and integrate haptic experiences into their VR applications.
New haptics software for Meta Quest
The first piece of software is Meta Haptics Studio, a desktop application for Mac and Windows that lets users create, customize and instantly test haptic effects. Either without a VR headset or via a Wi-Fi connection that syncs effects with a companion VR app. Developers no longer need to code their own test apps and can significantly reduce iteration times for haptics development.
Haptic effects can be saved and exported in a hardware independent file format (.haptic). "This means when haptics are played back on any current (Meta Quest 2 or Meta Quest Pro) or future Meta Quest controller, the haptics will be best adapted to the capabilities of the hardware," Meta writes. This should reduce development time significantly.
The second tool is the Haptics SDK for Unity. With this new API, developers can better integrate haptic effects into their Unity applications, modulate them in real time, or program dynamic variables.
"Both Haptics Studio and the Haptics SDK for Unity have been designed for quick results, without compromising on quality," Meta writes on the Quest developer blog. For beginners, Meta provides a library of haptic effects and an interactive tutorial. Both tools are still in an experimental phase.
German technology at work
These tools don't come out of the blue. Last summer, Meta acquired Lofelt, a Berlin-based startup specializing in haptics software. The Meta Haptics Studio is likely based on their haptics development software, Lofelt Studio. The integration of the software happened quickly, considering that the startup was acquired by Meta less than a year ago.
What's interesting about the article is that Meta talks about a "future Meta Quest controller". Could this mean a new pair of touch controllers for Meta Quest 3, possibly borrowing features from the Quest Touch Pro controllers?
The controllers, which are included with Meta Quest Pro but can also be purchased separately, track themselves using built-in cameras and also feature new sensors and haptic units that create more believable haptic effects.