The reveal of the HTC Vive Pro at CES 2018 prompted a flurry of speculation. There was a great deal of curiosity regarding exactly what those two external camera lenses were for, with educated guesses ranging from augmented reality (AR) support to inside-out tracking. The real function of these cameras has now been revealed.
Appearing at an event to promote the newly-launched standalone headset, the HTC Vive Focus and also to introduce the Chinese media to the HTC Vive Pro, HTC Vive Vice President Raymon Pao also found time to speak to Engadget, where he revealed that the elusive function of those cameras was, in fact, related to hand-tracking.
The idea of hand-tracking in virtual reality (VR) has en getting a great deal of attention lately, with hand- and finger-tracking haptic gloves heavily represented at CES 2018, and much anticipation regarding the forthcoming, but elusive, Vive Knuckles controllers.
According to Pao, the front-facing stereoscopic cameras have only a low-VGA resolution, originally intended to enhance player safety with the Chaperone safeguard feature to try and prevent accidents by notifying users of nearby obstacles. However, the team have discovered that the cameras have much more potential.
One impressive use case came from a Japanese developer, who created a haunted house videogame in which two players could enter the VR environment and see their own hands, down to individual fingers, instead of Vive wands. The proof-of-concept demo allowed for the players to even hold hands, in real world and in the virtual world.
“When we first designed this camera, we wanted to use it to enhance Chaperone and let it detect boundaries more automatically and more accurately… but we later realized that it may enable even better applications, so we wanted to share this with developers, such as at the Vive Developer Meetup in Chengdu later this week,” Pao said.
As such, HTC will be offering s development kit for the HTC Vive Pro depth camera to see what possibilities emerge. VRFocus will be sure to keep you up to date regarding new developments of this technology.