Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is showing off a new way to interact with the Oculus Rift headset: an Oculus glove. Today, he posted photos from a visit to the Facebook-owned VR company’s research lab in Redmond, Washington, where a team led by chief scientist Michael Abrash works on next-generation hardware. Most of the photos showed off the facility’s capabilities, but in one, Zuckerberg bragged about performing superheroics with a pair of white motion control gloves.
“We're working on new ways to bring your hands in virtual and augmented reality. Wearing these gloves, you can draw, type on a virtual keyboard, and even shoot webs like Spider Man. That's what I'm doing here,” he wrote in the caption.
There’s not much detail beyond that, although the gloves appear to be fairly minimalist, and paired with a (possibly wireless) Oculus Rift headset. Instead of the normal external tracking cameras, the system is using a bevy of what look like third-party OptiTrack sensors. The “augmented reality” reference remains enigmatic, although Zuckerberg has expressed his enthusiasm for AR before.
Gloves are a standard VR input method, as anyone who’s used a Nintendo Power Glove will know. But we’ve never seen one from Oculus, a major VR player with a platform far larger than any third-party peripheral developer. (It’s theoretically possible this was adapted by Oculus from another design; we’ve reached out for clarification.) Granted, VR gloves have serious problems, and in a lot of ways, they’re a stopgap for other hand tracking methods.
Oculus has previously acquired companies that work on glove-free hand tracking, but it’s hard to say what its endgame is — although for now, we’d really like to try that web shooter.