Meta* tests a fundamental upgrade of Quest VR headsets: a possibility interact with virtual elements only by hand, without the use of controllers. The user will be able to perform actions like on a smartphone: scroll pages up and down, press buttons and type on the on-screen keyboard simply by moving their fingers in the air. A new experimental feature is called Direct Touch and is included in the latest Quest v50 software update.
If the direct touch function is active, the meta headset* Quest 2 uses cameras to track the movements of the user’s hands and display them on the headset screen as translucent “shadows” – virtual hands. The user can use these virtual manipulators by “touching” interface elements to scroll and interact. Scrolling isn’t smooth, but it’s more responsive than expected.
However, direct touch typing is still difficult as there is no physical contact and it is difficult to understand which virtual key was pressed, resulting in an unacceptable number of errors. Luckily, the keyboard suggests words as you type, making things a little easier.
Bad typing and decent scrolling lead to the conclusion that the Quest web browser is by far the best example of Direct Touch controls. Scrolling up and down works quite well, as does clicking on links, and the search engine is ready to “understand” the user and correct many typos. Most other built-in Quest apps can also be used with Direct Touch, but many apps from the Quest Store including Meta’s own Horizon Worlds VR metaverse*until they are adapted for “virtual hands”.
Direct Touch is an experimental feature. And although it is based on a very promising idea, it will take a lot of effort to fully implement Direct Touch. The main obstacle to its use is the lack of tactile feedback. The brain doesn’t take well to “touching” the virtual portion of Quest’s UI, and it quickly tires of having to reach into space just to move around the UI.
The prospects for direct-touch technology are clear: devices like meta-augmented reality glasses* or Apple’s mixed reality helmet, which has long been rumored to be able to radically change how you interact with the real world of augmented reality.
* It is included in the list of public associations and religious organizations for which the court made a final decision to liquidate or ban activities on the grounds provided for in Federal Law No. 114-FZ of July 25. 2002 “On Countering Extremist Activities”.