Oculus’ Passthrough API enables experiences that blend VR and the real world


Facebook announced a new API that allows developers to incorporate Quest 2 sensor videos into their games and applications, creating a blended reality experience. The Passthrough API not only allows developers to mix black-and-white images from headset sensors into their experience, but also to be able to customize the way it looks on the player, apply effects, and even see the real world on specific surfaces.

The Facebook announcement includes examples of how the API could improve productivity software by allowing the integration of real-life keyboards and tables, and how games could include real-life furniture to hide enemies. It’s also easy to imagine other fun experiences that blend the real environment into the virtual world – what about portal puzzles solved in your own house, or the ability to see walls with virtual paint?

An example of mixed reality control.

An example of mixed reality control.
Gif: Oculus

Facebook said UploadVR that the API was currently only for Quest 2 when asked about compatibility with the first generation Quest. In the notification text, Facebook says that the image processing of the API takes place on the device, and that applications that use it will not see or store images from Quest 2’s sensors.

Facebook will add an experimental version of the API to its future development tools, and it will first be available to programmers who use Unity to build their software. Facebook promises that the API will receive support for other development platforms in the future.

Quest, Quest 2 and Rift S headphones they already have a version of Passthrough technologythat allows users to quickly see what’s going on around the real world. Facebook also gives you the opportunity set Passthrough as a virtual environment, giving you a version of your real environment (albeit in black and white) where you can navigate the Oculus interface. It even demonstrated this ability in the video its Infinite Office feature.

The ability to integrate a real-world environment into the virtual world has long been one of the most exciting promises of headphones with integrated cameras. Microsoft even appealed the idea when it named its VR platform Windows Mixed Reality (regardless of how much it was actually delivered).

The news about the Oculus API doesn’t mean you can pick up your headset and still have a confusing reality experience today. In his announcement, Facebook says it wants to allow developers to send software to Passthrough players “later this year”. Still, the availability of this API for developers is exciting because it should allow for new kinds of experiences on the Oculus platform.

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