Unity brings platform-agnostic hand tracking for VR developers

Unity brings platform-agnostic hand tracking for VR developers

An extension for the Unity engine allows the implementation of hand tracking on hardware including Meta Quest via OpenXR.

Developers using the Unity engine for hand tracking in virtual reality have a new option. The "XR Hands" package enables access to hand-tracking data according to the OpenXR standard. Meta Quest (2 & Pro) and Microsoft's Hololens 2 are supported so far, and other OpenXR platforms with hand tracking are to follow.

In the case of the Quest 2 (review), developers no longer need Meta's OpenXR backend for hand tracking. The previous Oculus integration was based on OpenXR but used a proprietary extension and a different joint arrangement than the standard.

OpenXR hand tracking for Quest (2 & Pro) and Hololens

The "XR Hands" package relies entirely on OpenXR and is therefore compatible with Unity packages like the "XR Interaction Toolkit". So far, "XR Hands" is still in pre-release version 1.1 for OpenXR.

Interested parties should add the package manually to the project's manifest. The package does not implement hand tracking, explains VR developer Dilmer Valecillos. Instead, it relies on appropriately updated plug-ins.


Unity's Staff Research Engineer Eric Provencher points out that an update to OpenXR 1.6.0 would also be useful. He also reminds developers that some hand-tracking extensions should be activated in the OpenXR menu.

Hand Tracking 2.1 for Quest (2 & Pro)

Meta has also recently noticed progress in hand tracking with Quest headsets. The proprietary programming interface in version 2.1 reportedly suffers from less frequent tracking crashes. The software also finds the "lost" hand faster after a tracking loss.

There are also improvements in precision, position prediction, and the pinch gesture. Hand Tracking 2.1 was introduced with Quest System Update v47. Supported applications should automatically benefit from the improvements, Meta said.

Sources: UploadVR, Twitter (Dilmer Valecillos, Eric Provencher, Meta)