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Meta Quest's New Hand-Tracking Update Adds Button Tapping, Maybe Better Typing

Added multitasking and an experimental "Direct Touch" hand-tracking update look like improvements on the way to this fall's Quest 3.

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Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read
Quest Pro VR headset, being worn while sitting at a desk

A demo I tried of the Quest Pro last fall using Meta's Horizon Workrooms, where I sat across from another avatar at my desk. Hand tracking updates could make work apps easier to use.

Meta

The Meta Quest 2 and Quest Pro already have hand tracking that works across many apps, and in the headset's OS without using a controller, but it's not necessarily good enough yet to replace your controllers. Meta's latest Quest OS update looks like it's trying to change that, and maybe make work interactions in VR feel a little less awkward.

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Meta's goal is to make this type of interaction feel like it's happening, even though hand tracking doesn't have actual haptic feedback.

Meta

Quest's v50 update, announced Tuesday and rolling out now, adds an experimental mode called "Direct Touch" that changes the metaphor a bit for hand interactions. Previously, you'd point at objects and pinch your fingers to select where you're pointing at. Direct Touch allows for reaching out and just tapping a button with your virtual finger instead.

Direct Touch also works on virtual keyboards, which means that typing on the pop-up Quest keyboard whenever it appears hovering in the air could feel less awkward, too.

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Meta

Meta's CTO, Andrew Bosworth, believes future Quest headsets could potentially ship without controllers, but at the moment hand tracking hasn't been good enough yet to make that happen: "I think it's pretty possible that someday we could ship a headset that didn't have controllers with them, for audiences for whom their use cases didn't need the extra weight expense. But we're not there yet," Bosworth told CNET last December.

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Watch this: Meta Horizon Workrooms With Quest Pro: A Peek at the Future of Work

Meta's expected Quest 3 headset is expected later this year, and Apple's own VR/AR entry is expected to be announced soon, too. Meta, Facebook's parent company, looks like it's continuing to evolve the interaction language on the Quest as it starts to bridge into mixed reality.

The v50 update also adds 2D app multitasking within other games and apps on the Quest 2, a feature that was already available on the Quest Pro.