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HTC Vive Will Ship With Forward Facing Cameras, With a Purpose

by Will Mason • September 1st, 2015

When the HTC Vive was first shown off to developers and press at the Mobile World Congress there were a lot of questions remaining about the mysterious stacked forward facing cameras. The cameras were one of the few things that HTC wouldn’t comment on at the time and so speculation began to run rampant with every idea from pass through to AR being suggested by the community.

Adding further to the mystery was that when the Vive developer kits started shipping earlier this year, they were shipped with the cameras blocked off (or completely missing). The reasons for this were unclear so the question was raised, will the consumer Vive have the cameras or not?

The answer, it turns out, is yes.

“Yeah, so there are front facing cameras on the unit,” said Jeff Gattis, HTC’s Executive Director of Global Marketing, in a recent interview with UploadVR.

But Gattis didn’t stop there, continuing further he revealed that the cameras do in fact have a very specific purpose. The cameras are there “more [for] safety reasons… We want to notify you that an object is moving in front of you, things like that. ” For example if a pet were to run in front of you, the system would be able to detect it and notify you so that you don’t end up accidentally stepping on your cat or kicking your dog – a problem some developers, like StressLevelZero, have looked to solve with… creative methodologies.

So the Vive will have the ability to detect objects, but what about other camera applications, like AR? According to Gattis, things like that simply aren’t in the cards right now, “I don’t want you to think augmented reality,” he says, “or anything on those lines.”

Even without the addition of AR, this should come as great news to anyone looking to buy a Vive. Right now the current versions of the Vive in developers hands don’t have the ability to access the cameras, which ultimately somewhat diminishes the effectiveness of the unit’s Chaperone System. With the addition of cameras things like smacking the controllers against the guy demoing for you (something that has happened to me at least once) will become far less of an issue, making the world a much safer place for those who perhaps get a little too excited in VR.

(Gif Source: RoadToVR)