The latest beta release of VRChat adds experimental support for hand tracking on Quest 2 and Quest Pro.
Referred to as experimental ‘finger tracking’ in the announcement tweet, this will allow Quest users to enter VRChat without controllers and use various hand and finger gestures to control their avatar and interact with the virtual world.
The developers released a video, embedded above, detailing how users can perform certain actions when using hand tracking. Pinching your thumb and middle finger together on your left hand, for example, will enable you to control smooth locomotion. Likewise, pinching your left ring finger and thumb will mute and unmute your mic, while the same fingers on your right hand will allow you to jump.
With these hand tracking controls, players will be able to socialize and explore VRChat environments in a more immersive manner that doesn’t require controllers. However, the importance of hand tracking support in social VR experiences like VRChat goes beyond simply ditching controllers – it opens up new accessibility avenues for specific communities, such as those who wish to communicate in VR using ASL and sign language.
VRChat already has a large community of signers in groups like Helping Hands that have adapted their hand shapes to work around held controllers. When hand tracking launched for Quest in 2020, we wrote about the technology’s potential for deaf players and those who can sign in ASL. Hand tracking on Quest has seen dramatic improvements since initial launch with the advent of updates such as Hand Tracking 2.0. With support coming to VRChat on Quest and the improved hand tracking available on Quest Pro, we’ll be curious to see how the technology is adopted by people to communicate and interact in VR using ASL and other sign languages.
”For those in our community with Quests, this means we will be able to achieve certain hand shapes that we have never been able to before without special avatar modifications. One example would be the ability to do a scissor-like motion with two fingers, moving between a ‘U’ hand shape to a ‘V’,” Helping Hands volunteer Jenny0628 told UploadVR. “However, this is still far from perfect, I’ve noticed the quest still struggles with tracking overlapping hands, crossed fingers and movements below the chest. I am so excited for more freedom of movement, and the strides VRChat is making to include more forms of interaction!”
Hand tracking in VRChat will also be compatible with the app’s recent avatar dynamics update, which launched in April. Quest 2 users can check out the experimental hand tracking support now, available in the open beta 2022.4.1 release of VRChat.
Article updated after publication with comment from a Helping Hands volunteer.