Hand tracking in Unreal

The hand tracking system uses a person’s palms and fingers as input. Data on position and rotation of every finger, the entire palm, and hand gestures is available. Starting in Unreal 4.26, hand tracking is based on the Unreal HeadMountedDisplay plugin and uses a common API across all XR platforms and devices. Functionality is the same for both Windows Mixed Reality and OpenXR systems.

Hand pose

Hand pose lets you track and use the hands and fingers of your users as input, which can be accessed in both Blueprints and C++. The Unreal API sends the data as a coordinate system, with ticks synchronized with the Unreal Engine.

Hand skeleton image with joints overlay Hand Skeleton

The hierarchy is described by EHandKeypoint enum:

Image of hand keypoint bluprint options

You can get all this data from a user’s hands using the Get Motion Controller Data function. That function returns an XRMotionControllerData structure. Below is a sample Blueprint script that parses the XRMotionControllerData structure to get hand joint locations and draws a debug coordinate system at each joint’s location.

Blueprint of get gaze data function connected to line trace by channel function

It's important to check if the structure is valid and that it's a hand. Otherwise, you may get undefined behavior in access to positions, rotations, and radii arrays.

Hand poses are exposed to Animation using the Live Link plugin.

If the Windows Mixed Reality and Live Link plugins are enabled:

  1. Select Window > Live Link to open the Live Link editor window.
  2. Select Source and enable Windows Mixed Reality Hand Tracking Source

Live Link Source

After you enable the source and open an animation asset, expand the Animation section in the Preview Scene tab too see additional options.

Live Link Animation

The hand animation hierarchy is the same as in EWMRHandKeypoint. Animation can be retargeted using WindowsMixedRealityHandTrackingLiveLinkRemapAsset:

Live Link Animation 2

It can also be subclassed in the editor:

Live Link Remap

Hand Mesh


Hand mesh requires OpenXR.

The Microsoft OpenXR plugin must be used, available from the Unreal Marketplace or GitHub.

Hand Mesh as a Tracked Geometry


Getting hand meshes as a tracked geometry in OpenXR requires you to call Set Use Hand Mesh with Enabled Tracking Geometry.

To enable that mode you should call Set Use Hand Mesh with Enabled Tracking Geometry:

Blueprint of event begin play connected to set use hand mesh function with enabled tracking geometry mode


It’s not possible for both modes to be enabled at the same time. If you enable one, the other is automatically disabled.

Accessing Hand Mesh Data

Hand Mesh

Before you can access hand mesh data, you'll need to:

  • Select your ARSessionConfig asset, expand the AR Settings -> World Mapping settings, and check Generate Mesh Data from Tracked Geometry.

Below are the default mesh parameters:

  1. Use Mesh Data for Occlusion
  2. Generate Collision for Mesh Data
  3. Generate Nav Mesh for Mesh Data
  4. Render Mesh Data in Wireframe – debug parameter that shows generated mesh

These parameter values are used as the spatial mapping mesh and hand mesh defaults. You can change them at any time in Blueprints or code for any mesh.

C++ API Reference

Use EEARObjectClassification to find hand mesh values in all trackable objects.

enum class EARObjectClassification : uint8
    // Other types

The following delegates are called when the system detects any trackable object, including a hand mesh.

class FARSupportInterface
    // Other params

Make sure your delegate handlers follow the function signature below:

void UARHandMeshComponent::OnTrackableAdded(UARTrackedGeometry* Added)

You can access mesh data through the UARTrackedGeometry::GetUnderlyingMesh:

UMRMeshComponent* UARTrackedGeometry::GetUnderlyingMesh()

Blueprint API Reference

To work with Hand Meshes in Blueprints:

  1. Add an ARTrackableNotify Component to a Blueprint actor

ARTrackable Notify

  1. Go to the Details panel and expand the Events section.

ARTrackable Notify 2

  1. Overwrite On Add/Update/Remove Tracked Geometry with the following nodes in your Event Graph:

On ARTrackable Notify

Hand Mesh visualization in OpenXR

The recommended way to visualize hand mesh is to use Epic’s XRVisualization plugin together with the Microsoft OpenXR plugin.

Then in the blueprint editor, you should use Set Use Hand Mesh function from the Microsoft OpenXR plugin with Enabled XRVisualization as a parameter:

Blueprint of event begin play connected to set use hand mesh function with enabled xrvisualization mode

To manage the rendering process, you should use Render Motion Controller from XRVisualization:

Blueprint of get motion controller data function connected to render motion controller function

The result:

Image of digital hand overlayed on a real human hand

If you need anything more complicated, such as drawing a hand mesh with a custom shader, you need to get the meshes as a tracked geometry.

Hand rays

Getting hand pose works for close interactions like grabbing objects or pressing buttons. However, sometimes you need to work with holograms that are far away from your users. This can be accomplished with hand rays, which can be used as pointing devices in both C++ and Blueprints. You can draw a ray from your hand to a far point and, with some help from Unreal ray tracing, select a hologram that would otherwise be out of reach.


Since all function results change every frame, they're all made callable. For more information about pure and impure or callable functions, see the Blueprint user guid on functions.

To get the data for the hand rays, you should use the Get Motion Controller Data function from the previous section. The returned structure contains two parameters you can use to create a hand ray – Aim Position and Aim Rotation. These parameters form a ray directed by your elbow. You should take them and find a hologram being pointed by.

Below is an example of determining whether a hand ray hits a Widget and setting a custom hit result:

Blueprint of get motion controller data function


The HoloLens 2 tracks spatial gestures, which means you can capture those gestures as input. Gesture tracking is based on a subscription model. You should use the “Configure Gestures” function to tell the device which gestures you want to track. You can find more details about gestures are the HoloLens 2 Basic Usage document.

Windows Mixed Reality

Blueprint of event begin play connected to configure gestures function

Then you should add code to subscribe to the following events:

Blueprint of Windows spatial input hold, tap, and left manipulation gestures Screenshot of Windows spatial input tap gesture options in the details panel


In OpenXR, gesture events are tracked through the input pipeline. Using hand interaction, the device can automatically recognize Tap and Hold gestures, but not the others. They are named as OpenXRMsftHandInteraction Select and Grip mappings. You don’t need to enable subscription, you should declare the events in Project Settings/Engine/Input, just like this:

Screenshot of the OpenXR action mappings

Next Development Checkpoint

If you're following the Unreal development journey we've laid out, you're in the midst of exploring the MRTK core building blocks. From here, you can continue to the next building block:

Or jump to Mixed Reality platform capabilities and APIs:

You can always go back to the Unreal development checkpoints at any time.