Job Simulator Devs Say They Feel 'Vindicated' By Apple Vision Pro's Approach To VR

While Apple Vision Pro validated much of what Meta (formerly Facebook) did in VR over the last decade, the headset also echoes work under Google’s umbrella at Job Simulator development studio Owlchemy Labs.

Following the recent announcement that Job Simulator and Vacation Simulator are coming to Apple Vision Pro, UploadVR sat down with Owlchemy Labs CEO Andrew Eiche at GDC 2024. Asked about the studio’s hand tracking focus and how Apple Vision Pro uses hand tracking as its primary control method, Eiche believes Apple’s system feels like “huge vindication” for Owlchemy’s strategy.

“We had this similar pinch gesture in our previous hand tracking demo without knowing what Apple was going to do at all, so it’s great to see that we’ve all coalesced around this one interaction,” confirms Eiche.

Describing Apple’s combination of eye and hand tracking as “really interesting,” Eiche explains that Owlchemy previously experimented with a prototype on Quest Pro, which, though that headset carries fewer sensors, features the same basic input combination.

“When we first tried the Apple Vision Pro, we were like, ‘yes!’ This is like what we have been hoping for in many cases,” Eiche told UploadVR in a face-to-face interview at GDC. “Making an app on a headset is difficult right now on every headset because you have to start from scratch. With Apple, you can use Swift UI. You can use all of these different tools to build an app to get the base layer. And then you add everything on top of it and it’s interesting. So yeah, it felt like a huge vindication.”

Owlchemy Labs has a prominent history when it comes to hand-tracking controls. Giving Vacation Simulator experimental support in 2020 on Quest, 2021 introduced a ‘High Frequency Hand Tracking mode‘ with reduced latency and better performance, and we later called it one of the best hand tracking games on Quest. In 2022, the studio teased its next project is a multiplayer game with hand tracking, later followed by a hand tracking tech demo.

“The craziest thing about hand tracking is it’s going to make controller tracking better because we’ll be able to track your hands while you’re holding the controller,” Eiche told us at GDC last year, prior to Apple’s announcement. “And what’s to stop you then from peripherals?”

Owlchemy Demo Reaches For Mass Market VR Hand Tracking
Owlchemy’s hand tracking tech demo at GDC 2023 pointed to the future of mass market VR.

For GDC 2024, I asked how Owlchemy approached adding hand tracking support for Job Simulator retroactively on Apple Vision Pro. Eiche said they started with Vacation Simulator’s hand tracking system and built from there:

“Using the system that we built for Vacation Simulator, we went back in and caught some edge cases cause it was still experimental. We did some more work on it and then brought it into Job Simulator. It’s actually easier to go into Job Simulator than Vacation Simulator because there’s no teleportation.

Eiche declined to comment on whether Job Simulator would get hand tracking on Quest.

Overall, it’s clear that Eiche shares similar views with Devin Reimer, former Owlchemy Labs CEO and CTO. Eiche said he’s “very aligned” with Reimer’s views expressed in a guest editorial earlier this year outlining why he feels every VR developer needs a hand-tracking plan.

“The winds are changing very quickly and not having a plan could potentially be a costly mistake,” Reimer wrote.

You can read more in the link below:

Why Every VR Developer Needs A Hand Tracking Plan
Job Simulator is one of the highest selling VR games of all time and its technical lead has a message for developers: You need to have a hand tracking plan now.

Google’s developer conference is May 14 and Samsung has been targeting later this year for release of a Google-powered VR headset using the XR2 Gen 2+ chipset from Qualcomm.