Oculus Passthrough API puts VR user back in the "real" world

This week Oculus Passthrough API Experimental was released, giving creators a way to build and test mixed reality experiences for VR and AR devices. Since this is made by Oculus, it's pretty safe to say that the software will be aimed at Oculus devices, but the implications of what we're seeing is far more important than one platform.

The software you're seeing here works with Oculus Quest 2. This is the latest in simple-to-use, all-in-one VR/AR headset tech from Oculus. With this hardware and software, users can place an Oculus Quest 2 headset on their head and see the world through the cameras of the headset. A user's hands are the controls, and the world is their playground.

The headset will allow the user to take account of their surroundings and interact with the space with Oculus software. Draw images in virtual space and see them stick, apply filters to the user's visual interpretation of the world, allow the world to be part of the experience. This Passthrough system could, and should allow the headset to enhance the world around the user, rather than block it out.

To be clear, the experiences you see in the demonstrations here aren't ready to roll for all users on the Oculus Quest 2 right out the box. This is still experimental, and it's still really meant for developers to get an idea of what's possible for their own future mixed reality applications. If you are a developer and have begun working with this software, Oculus creators have put out the word that they'd love to converse with you in their developer forums.

Oculus Developer representatives suggested this week that Passthrough API Experimental will be available in the v31 SDK release for Oculus devices. The "production version" of Passthrough API is "targeted for later this year." At that point, we will (hopefully) see a whole lot more of this mixed reality universe become a reality.