Today, Meta announced new improvements to the Quest platform as part of the v50 OS update, including an experimental feature, “Direct Touch,” that lets users tap and swipe with their bare hands. The company also rolled out an in-game multitasking feature to Meta Quest 2 and upgraded the Meta Quest Touch Pro controllers.
While Meta already has hand tracking, which launched on the Quest platform in 2019, users will now be able to do more than just pinch the air in order to interact in VR. The Direct Touch setting allows users to tap on buttons, swipe through the game library and use their hands to type out messages on the virtual keyboard—all without the use of controllers.
Last week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted an Instagram Reel that shows a demo of the new feature. From what we can see in the video, it feels similar to using the touchscreen on a smartphone–which will likely be appealing to many users.
Zuckerberg wrote in the Instagram caption that these new hand gestures are “much more natural.” The company added in today’s announcement that Direct Touch offers a “more intuitive and engaging way to interact with the system and 2D panels in general.”
The feature can be located within the Experimental Settings tab. It’s available on Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro.
Meta Quest 2 users are also getting the in-game multitasking feature, which was previously only available on Meta Quest Pro. When playing a game, users simply select the Meta Quest button and launch 2D apps from their library, such as Instagram, the Meta Quest Browser and more.
With the v50 update, the company also decreased the amount of time it takes for self-tracking to start on the Meta Quest Touch Pro controllers. So, now when a user puts on their headset, it will take less time for the controllers to understand where they are. It will also respond quicker for users that switch from hand tracking to controllers.
The company added that, in the future, it is launching additional upgrades to Meta Quest Touch Pro.
Meta continues to invest in the metaverse, despite Reality Labs, Meta’s VR and AR division, losing $13.7 billion in 2022. Reality Labs only gained $2.16 billion in revenue. The company plans to launch a consumer VR headset later this year.
Plus, Meta will soon have to compete with Apple as the major tech company is reportedly launching its own VR headset. Bloomberg reported that the headset would have advanced eye-tracking and hand-tracking capabilities.