Get a virtual feed to the outside world.

An irritating issue in modern virtual reality is the strong disconnect with the outside world. While we aim for the greatest immersion possible, we're still obliged to tend to the people around us.

A lesser known feature of the HTC Vive is the headset's inbuilt camera, which can be used to look at the real world while still wearing the headset. Whether talking to your significant other, answering the phone or taking a sip of your beverage, the low latency of the camera is a great way to interact with the surrounding world. Follow the steps below to enable the camera and tweak its properties to your liking!

Enable the camera on the HTC Vive

By default, the HTC Vive's camera is disabled due to the potential loss of tracking on lower-end hardware. According to HTC, issues occur when using lower speed USB ports, which are unable to transmit tracking data and camera video at a fast enough rate.

Here's how to activate the camera through SteamVR:

  1. Open SteamVR.
  2. From SteamVR for the desktop, open Settings.
  3. Click on the Camera tab.
  4. Check the Enable Camera checkbox.
  5. Restart SteamVR.

Changing the refresh rate of the camera

The HTC Vive's camera can be incremented between 30Hz and 60Hz, with the higher frequency delivering smoother video. Many users won't see a drop in tracking performance when using the camera at the highest refresh rate, but can be altered if issues occur. The refresh rate can be altered by adjusting the slider pictured above.

Using the HTC Vive's camera

The HTC Vive's camera can be used in three modes - each designed for use in different scenarios. These can be activated through the highlighted checkboxes highlighted above.

  • The 'Allow Camera for Dashboard' option activates the camera when the SteamVR Dashboard is opened. Upon pressing the Home button, a small color feed of the camera will appear next to the right-hand controller.
  • The SteamVR camera can be activated automatically using the 'Allow Camera for Chaperone Bounds' setting, which helps when approaching the edges of your play area. Instead of the direct camera feed, this is a simplified representation that highlights the edges of surrounding objects when exiting your VR boundaries.
  • The same simplified camera view can be manually activated by selecting the 'Allow Camera for Room View' box. If selected, double-clicking the System button will activate the camera view. This is most convenient for briefly interacting with the real world, without the need to remove the headset.

Have any questions about the HTC Vive's camera? Leave a comment below and we'll be here to help!