User Manual

WebXR Input Sources in PlayCanvas

Input Source

An XrInputSource represents an input mechanism that allows the user to interact with a virtual world. Those include, but are not limited to: handheld controllers, optically tracked hands, gaze-based input methods and touch screens. But an input source is not explicitly associated with traditional gamepads, mice or keyboards.

Accessing Input Sources

A list of input sources is available on the XrInput manager which is created by the XrManager:

var inputSources = app.xr.input.inputSources;
for (var i = 0; i < inputSources.length; i++) {
    // iterate through each available input source

Input sources can be added and removed dynamically. This can be done by connecting physical devices or by switching input devices by underlying platform, and some input sources have a lifespan only during their primary action (for example, a touchscreen in an AR-type session on mobile). You can subscribe to add and remove events:

app.xr.input.on('add', function (inputSource) {
    // input source been added

    inputSource.once('remove', function () {
        // know when input source has been removed

Primary Action (select)

Each input source can have a primary action select. On gaze-based input sources, it is the touch of a screen/button. On handheld devices, it is the primary button/trigger. For tracked hands it is emulated by PlayCanvas engine when thumb and index tips are touching. There are also selectstart and selectend events which you can subscribe to as follows:

inputSource.on('select', function () {
    // primary action

Or through the input manager:

app.xr.input.on('select', function (inputSource) {
    // primary action


Each input source has a ray which has an origin where it points from, and a direction in which it is pointing. A ray is transformed to world space. Some examples of input sources might be, but not limited to:

Here is an example illustrating how to check whether a ray has intersected with the bounding-box of a mesh:

// update ray with input source data
ray.set(inputSource.getOrigin(), inputSource.getDirection());
// check if mesh bounding box intersects with ray
if (meshInstance.aabb.intersectsRay(ray)) {
    // input source is pointing on a mesh


Some input sources are associated with a physical handheld device, such as an Oculus Touch™, and can have position and rotation. Their position and rotation are provided in world space.

if (inputSource.grip) {
    // can render device model
    // position and rotate associated entity with model


If the platform supports the WebXR Gamepads Module, then an input source might have an associated GamePad object with it, which can be accessed to get buttons, triggers, axes and other input hardware states:

var gamepad = inputSource.gamepad;
if (gamepad) {
    if (gamepad.buttons[0] && gamepad.buttons[0].pressed) {
        // user pressed a button on a gamepad


If platform supports WebXR Hand Input, then an input source might have an associated hand data, which is exposed as XrHand, and provides convenient information in form of XrFinger and XrJoint for application developer to use, such as wrist, fingers, each joint, tips and events for detecting when hands loose/restore tracking.

Creating basic hand model:

var joints = [ ];
var hand = inputSource.hand;

if (hand) {
    for(var i = 0; i < hand.joints.length; i++) {
        var entity = new pc.Entity();
        entity.joint = hand.joints[i];
        entity.addComponent('model', { type: 'box' });

And synchronising it on every update:

for(var i = 0; i < joints.length; i++) {
    var entity = joints[i];
    var joint = entity.joint;
    var radius = joint.radius * 2;
    entity.setLocalScale(radius, radius, radius);


Each input source might have a list of strings describing a type of input source, which is described in a profile registry. Based on this, you can figure out what type of model to render for handheld device or what capabilities it might have. Additionally, the profile registry lists gamepad mapping details, such as buttons and axes.

if (inputSource.profiles.indexOf('oculus-touch-v2') !== -1) {
    // it is an Oculus Touch™ handheld device