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Oculus Passthrough API allows developers to blend real and virtual worlds

With the help of the new Oculus Passthrough API, VR app developers can more easily create mixed reality experiences.


Oculus has taken another step forward in the mixed reality development realm with the introduction of their new Passthrough API. The Passthrough API allows developers to seamlessly blend real-world and virtual worlds, opening up the possibility for new ideas and design in mixed reality software.

Passthrough API will be available in the upcoming v31 Oculus SDK release. It opens the door for developers to create new experiences for:

  • Productivity: Enable users to collaborate with a remote team of co-workers or friends through virtual monitors while accessing their physical keyboard and desk.
  • Gaming: Create games that blend the excitement of a virtual world into the comfort and familiarity of the real world, like zombies hiding in your living room.
  • Co-located Social Presence: Allow users to be both engaged in your virtual content and able to interact with people and pets in the same room, at the same time.

Developers will also have the option to customize the way Passthrough works or appears within their app. This is possible through several methods, including:

  • Composition: You can composite Passthrough layers with other VR layers via existing blending techniques like hole punching and alpha blending.
  • Styling: You’ll be able to apply styles and tint to layers from a predefined list, including applying a color overlay to the feed, rendering edges, customizing opacity, and posterizing.
  • Custom Geometry: You can render Passthrough images to a custom mesh instead of relying on the default style mesh—for example, to project Passthrough on a planar surface.

Initial availability for Passthrough API will be limited to Unity for the upcoming SDK release, but Oculus has plans to expand its capability into other environments in the future. The production version of the API should arrive by the end of the year, but devs can go ahead and start testing with the Oculus 2 now. You can read more about the Passthrough API on the official Oculus developer forums.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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