OpenXRHand in Godot – Complete Guide

Understanding the OpenXRHand class in Godot 4 opens up a new array of possibilities for developers looking to incorporate hand tracking into their virtual reality (VR) experiences. This cutting-edge functionality can bring a higher level of immersion to VR games and applications, as it allows users to see and use their hands within the digital environment. Journey with us as we delve into the intricacies of the OpenXRHand class, leverage its features, and uncover how easy it is to add realistic hand tracking to your Godot 4 projects.

What is the OpenXRHand Class?

What is the OpenXRHand Class?

The OpenXRHand class is a Godot 4 node designed specifically to work with the OpenXR API for hand tracking. It acts as a bridge between hand movements in the real world and their virtual representations within a VR environment. By inheriting from Node3D, it seamlessly integrates with Godot’s 3D scene system.

What is it for?

Integrating the OpenXRHand class within your Godot project allows for the detection and visualization of players’ hand movements. This capability is especially useful in VR applications where hand presence increases interactivity and fosters a more natural user experience.

Why Should I Learn It?

Understanding and implementing hand tracking technology is becoming increasingly essential as VR continues to grow in popularity and application. Learning to use the OpenXRHand class will enable you to build more engaging and intuitive VR content, giving you a competitive edge in game development or on the VR scene in general.

Let’s venture further into the world of VR hand tracking with Godot 4 and discover how to implement the OpenXRHand class in your projects.

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Setting Up the Environment for Hand Tracking

To begin implementing the OpenXRHand class, you first need to have a Godot 4 project set up with VR capabilities. This requires configuring an OpenXR run-time on your machine and ensuring your project is ready for VR development. The following code will help you set up the VR environment:

var xr_interface = ARVRServer.find_interface("OpenXR")
if xr_interface and xr_interface.initialize():
    get_viewport().arvr = true
    get_viewport().vr = true

With the VR environment initialized, we can ensure that our application is ready to track the player’s hands.

Adding the OpenXRHand Node

Next, we’ll add the OpenXRHand node to our scene to represent each hand. The following code shows how to instantiate and add an OpenXRHand node for the left hand to our scene:

var left_hand =

Repeat this process for the right hand, making sure to change the hand identifier accordingly:

var right_hand =

These nodes will automatically update their position and orientation in your scene to match the player’s hand movements.

Visualizing Hand Movements

To visualize hand movements in the virtual space, we’ll create simple hand models or use ready-made representations to attach to our OpenXRHand nodes. Here’s how you can add a mesh instance to represent each hand:

// Assuming you have a spatial mesh for the left hand
var left_hand_mesh = preload("res://LeftHandMesh.tscn").instance()

// And similarly for the right hand
var right_hand_mesh = preload("res://RightHandMesh.tscn").instance()

With these meshes, movements of the player’s hands will be visually represented by the attached 3D models.

Interacting With Virtual Objects

For the hands to interact with objects in your VR world, you’ll need to detect collisions and apply interactions. Let’s set up collision shapes for the hands:

// Add a collision shape to the left hand
var left_hand_collision_shape =
left_hand_collision_shape.shape =
left_hand_collision_shape.shape.radius = 0.1

// Repeat for the right hand
var right_hand_collision_shape =
right_hand_collision_shape.shape =
right_hand_collision_shape.shape.radius = 0.1

Grabbing objects can be managed by detecting when a player’s hand is close enough to an object and determining if the grab action has been initiated. Here’s a simple script example for starting the grab:

func _process_hand_input(hand_node):
    if hand_node.is_grabbing():
        // Code to pick up or interact with objects

By calling this function within the game’s process loop for each hand node, you ensure continuous checks for interaction possibilities.

Stay tuned for the next part of our tutorial where we’ll build upon these basics, refining hand interactions and exploring more advanced uses of the OpenXRHand class in Godot 4.

Advanced Hand Interactions

Moving beyond basic hand tracking, we can implement more sophisticated interaction techniques such as gesture recognition and hand state management. Let’s explore these advanced features and bolster our VR toolkit.

To recognize gestures, we must monitor the position and state of each finger. By using the information provided by the OpenXRHand class, we can detect specific gesture patterns:

func detect_gesture(hand_node):
    var thumb = hand_node.get_finger_position(OpenXRHand.FINGER_THUMB)
    var index = hand_node.get_finger_position(OpenXRHand.FINGER_INDEX)
    var middle = hand_node.get_finger_position(OpenXRHand.FINGER_MIDDLE)
    // Implement logic to detect gestures based on finger positions
    if thumb.close_to(index) and thumb.close_to(middle):
        print("Thumb press gesture detected")

This example provides a basic structure to start experimenting with gesture detection. Adapting the logic to recognize additional gestures can lead to a range of interactive possibilities.

We can also create custom events triggered by hand gestures. Let’s set up a simple signal that fires when a “pinch” gesture is detected on any hand:

signal pinch_gesture_detected(hand_name)

func _process(delta):
    if detect_pinch_gesture(left_hand):
        emit_signal("pinch_gesture_detected", "left")
    if detect_pinch_gesture(right_hand):
        emit_signal("pinch_gesture_detected", "right")

func detect_pinch_gesture(hand_node):
    var thumb_tip = hand_node.get_bone_global_position(OpenXRHand.BONE_ID_THUMB_TIP)
    var index_tip = hand_node.get_bone_global_position(OpenXRHand.BONE_ID_INDEX_TIP)
    return thumb_tip.distance_to(index_tip) < 0.05

Now, other nodes in your scene can connect to this signal and respond to the gesture.

Ensuring that hands only interact when intended is crucial to a smooth user experience. Implementing hand state management allows us to handle interactions with greater precision:

enum HandState { OPEN, POINTING, CLOSED }

var hand_state = HandState.OPEN

func update_hand_state(hand_node):
    var finger_curl = hand_node.get_finger_curl(OpenXRHand.FINGER_INDEX)
    if finger_curl > 0.9:
        hand_state = HandState.CLOSED
    elif finger_curl > 0.1:
        hand_state = HandState.POINTING
        hand_state = HandState.OPEN

This can then be used to trigger interactions only when the hand is in a specific state, rather than reacting to every detected collision.

Finally, we might want hands to provide haptic feedback upon interacting with objects. Below is how you could implement a simple vibration when the hand touches a virtual object:

func _on_Hand_area_entered(area):
    if area.is_in_group("interactable"):
        hand_node.start_haptic_effect("impact", 0.5, 0.1)

You would need to connect ‘area_entered’ signals from collision nodes to this function, ensuring proper feedback is given during interactions.

With these more advanced code examples, you’re now equipped to create rich, interactive VR experiences that leverage the wide array of features offered by the OpenXRHand class in Godot 4. Keep experimenting and refining your interactions to build the most immersive VR content possible.

As you refine your VR experience, you may want to include nuanced hand animations that correspond to the player’s actions. To achieve this, you can adjust the transform of individual hand bones. Consider the following example where you would make the hand’s index finger point:

func point_with_index_finger(hand_node):
    var bone_name = hand_node.get_bone_name(OpenXRHand.BONE_ID_INDEX_PROXIMAL)
    hand_node.set_bone_local_orientation(bone_name, Quat(Vector3(0, 0, -1.57)))

You might also want to blend between different hand poses smoothly. Godot’s built-in animation tools can be utilized for interpolating between bone poses. Here’s how to set up a simple animation to transition between an open hand and a fist:

var animation_player =
var animation =
animation.track_insert_key(0, 0, Quat())
animation.track_insert_key(0, 1, Quat(Vector3(0, 0, -1.57)))

animation_player.add_animation("close_hand", animation)

Another vital aspect of hand tracking is ensuring that interactions feel natural when the player’s hands collide with or hold objects. Physics-based reactions can be achieved by manipulating the rigid bodies in your scene. Below, we adjust an object’s transform to attach it to the hand:

func grab_rigid_body(hand_node, rigid_body):
    rigid_body.mode = RigidBody.MODE_KINEMATIC
    rigid_body.global_transform = hand_node.global_transform

To release the object and let it respond naturally to physics again, you might revert its mode:

func release_rigid_body(rigid_body):
    rigid_body.mode = RigidBody.MODE_RIGID

When implementing hand tracking, you also want to consider the camera’s relative position to the hands to avoid visual dissonance. Make sure that the hands appear at an appropriate distance from the camera:

func _process(delta):
    var hand_to_camera_distance = camera.global_transform.origin.distance_to(left_hand.global_transform.origin)
    if hand_to_camera_distance < MIN_HAND_DISTANCE:
        left_hand.visible = false
        left_hand.visible = true

Using collision layers and masks can prevent hands from accidentally interacting with unintended objects. Here’s an example of configuring a hand’s collision:

left_hand_collision_shape.set_collision_layer_bit(3, true)
left_hand_collision_shape.set_collision_mask_bit(2, true)

This ensures that the left hand only interacts with objects that are on collision layer 2 and that it’s recognized on collision layer 3.

Performance optimization is another key area, particularly for VR. To maintain a high frame rate, you may want to implement logic to only update hand details when necessary:

func _physics_process(delta):
    if hand_node.is_active():
        # Skip updates to reduce processing

Through the examples provided here, you can see that Godot’s OpenXRHand class combined with the engine’s various 3D functionalities galvanizes the creation of highly interactive and believable VR experiences. With these tools at your disposal, we’re excited to see what kind of hand-tracked adventures you will craft!

Continuing Your Godot Journey

Your dive into the OpenXRHand class and hand tracking in Godot 4 has only scratched the surface of what’s possible with this versatile game engine. To further your learning and expand your development skills, we warmly invite you to explore our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree. This comprehensive program covers a wide array of topics to bolster your game creation arsenal, whether you’re just beginning or looking to polish your skills with new challenges.

From crafting platformers to designing complex RTS games, the Mini-Degree will guide you through hands-on projects using Godot’s flexible node system and intuitive GDScript programming language. You’ll build various game genres, all while solidifying your knowledge in 2D and 3D game development, UI design, and combat mechanics. Our structured learning path ensures that you not only enjoy the process but also come away with a portfolio of completed projects to showcase your abilities.

For developers seeking to delve deeper into specific areas of Godot, we also provide a broad selection of Godot courses to choose from here. Whether you’re starting out or aiming to refine your expertise, we at Zenva are thrilled to support your growth and success in game development. Happy creating!


Embarking on the world of VR and hand tracking with Godot 4 is an exciting step in any developer’s journey, opening up a new dimension of realistic and immersive game experiences. Mastering the OpenXRHand class is just the beginning. As you continue to learn and expand your skillset with Godot, you’ll be able to push the boundaries of what’s possible, creating games and applications that captivate, inspire, and bring joy to players around the globe.

Whether you’re interested in VR, 2D platformers, or complex AI systems, our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree is an incredible resource to help guide your progress. With each new project and line of code, you’ll grow more confident and adept at bringing your creative visions to life. We can’t wait to see how you’ll innovate and transform the digital landscape with your newfound capabilities. Continue your game development adventure with us, and let’s build unforgettable experiences together!

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