Meta’s Quest headset can navigate virtual reality apps and games with only the user’s hands as if they were controllers. This makes it super-fast and easy to pick up and get started with VR in a way that makes sense. While using hands comes naturally, there are some tips that will help since VR isn’t tangible just yet, and there are still some controls that users can’t access entirely on instinct. A quick rundown of how to switch on this feature and use it should help get the most out of a Quest headset.

Meta’s Quest VR headset includes two controllers that can track their location in 3D space and identify each controller’s tilt, spin, and rotation. This allows the user’s hand position to be shown in virtual reality with great accuracy. The system also identifies where the user is within a room by scanning the environment with cameras placed on the front of the headset. This is called ‘inside out’ tracking since no external hardware is needed to see where a person is, which is something that distinguishes newer VR systems, such as the Quest. More recently, Meta expanded the headset’s capabilities to track not only the room but also the user’s hands when not holding controllers.

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Meta’s amazing hand tracking ability began as a beta feature but has graduated to the standard settings menu and can be easily enabled in the Device settings. The user should open the Settings app, select the Device tab and then ‘Hands and Controllers’ to see all of the options. The toggle for ‘Hand Tracking’ should be there, and if it isn’t, a system update is needed. It’s a good idea also to select automatic switching for ‘Hand Tracking,’ which allows the headset to detect whether the controllers are being used or if the person wants to use their hands directly.

Meta Quest Hand Gestures

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Once enabled, there are some helpful gestures and tips that can help users get the most out of this capability. Holding a hand out in front will show a pointer extending between the thumb and forefinger. A pinch and release gesture selects a button or an item as if the user tapped it on a smartphone. If the pinch is held, a slider or other control can be moved with the hand as if dragging the item. Since the controller has buttons, this is simulated with the hand by looking at the palm, pinching, and holding until a menu appears.

An increasing number of games and apps now support hand-tracking, and Meta continues to improve this already impressive feature. Each app can define its own hand gestures, so check the app for usage details. Even if not using Quest hand-tracking in apps, it’s handy as a quick way to pop into VR to start installing a new game or app without needing to grab both controllers. As Meta continues to build the Metaverse and expands it to augmented reality, hand tracking will be a critical feature since it’s unlikely people would want to carry controllers to interact with AR glasses.