Passthrough mode on Gear VR lets you see the world around you through a camera

Generally the point of putting on a VR headset like Gear VR is to leave the real world behind temporarily. However, there is a way to see what is going on around you quickly, even if you are wearing your Gear VR. Passthrough mode lets you see your surroundings from the view of the camera on your phone - basically through a grainy square.

It's not something you should need to use often, but you can definitely use it. Whether you want to use it is what becomes the more pressing question to ask.

What is Passthrough mode

The Passthrough mode on Gear VR allows you to continue wearing the headset while seeing the world around you. Kind of. You can see what the camera powering your Gear VR can see. This means that your view is set off to the left, which is initially very disorienting, and a bit more grainy than the way you are used to seeing the world. While this feature of Gear VR isn't one that is used particularly often, it does exist. Since you can launch Passthrough mode from the utilities menu, it's an easy way to check on your surroundings if you hear something suspicious.

Using the passthrough camera is also an easy way to check out the room you are playing in, without having to take your headset off in the process. For anybody who like to be particularly adjusted, passthrough mode is a great opportunity not to have to fully break immersion while responding to stimuli in the physical world.

How do I access Passthrough mode?

To get to passthrough mode, you'll only need to do a few things. Open Oculus home, and then press and hold the back button. This will launch a menu, you want to select Utilities. Select Passthrough camera, it will be the last option at the bottom of your screen. Ta da! You will now be using Passthrough mode. When you're done, focus on the middle of your screen where it says 'turn off camera' and tap, this will bring you back to the VR menu.

Step by step directions

  1. Open Oculus home on your Gear VR
  2. Hold the back button until the menu launches
  3. Go to Utilities. It's the last icon on the right.
  4. Go to passthrough camera, it will be the icon on the bottom of your screen
  5. When you're done, focus on the middle of your screen where it says 'turn off camera' and tap. This will bring you back to the menu.

What can I do in Passthrough mode?

To be very honest, there isn't much you can do using the Passthrough camera. You can look around and check out your surroundings, but for the time being, that's about it. While you can use passthrough mode to walk around a room and see your surroundings, we really don't recommend it. That's because you are not seeing things from the proper perspective, and it's easy to become unbalanced and fall over. Trust us on this one, we've fallen over more than once.

There are a handful of apps and games out there that take advantage of Passthrough mode in order to deliver a unique experience. These include apps that can turn your surroundings into a kaleidoscopic mandala, or let you take photos with filters attached. There aren't many apps out there that take advantage of the Passthrough feature, but there are a few out there to be discovered.