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 favorite 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. It's currently unknown how the camera will perform with TPCast's wireless solution for the Vive, but is something to consider if tracking issues occur.
Here's how to activate the camera through SteamVR:
- Open SteamVR.
- From SteamVR for the desktop, open Settings.
- Click on the Camera tab.
- Check the Enable Camera checkbox.
- 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.
Is the HTC Vive's camera a viable tool?
For the most part, you'll get by with the HTC Vive's inbuilt camera for any occasional activities you might engage in while immersed in VR. Although the camera's resolution is far from perfect, a consistent framerate and unnoticeable latency make this a great addition to the headset's offerings.
With the aid of 'Room View', the camera is great for quick engagements with people in the room, basic object interaction or simply reading the notifications on your phone. Although nothing ground-breaking, the camera has held up well in our previous experiences.
Have any questions about the HTC Vive's camera? Leave a comment below and we'll be here to help!
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