Picture the scene: you are deeply immersed in some brilliant virtual reality (VR) content, but you are also thirsty. You reach out blindly for the bottle on your desk, but you fumble and it goes flying off to who-knows-where. This sort of scenario will be familiar to many who use VR headsets, and it is something that can potentially be avoided thanks to an Early Access app on Steam called FragmentVR.
Similarly to the ‘flashlight’ feature that is available in the newest Windows Inside preview build for Windows Mixed Reality devices, FragmentVR allows users to open up ‘windows’ to see out into the real world from within the VR environment.
The app uses a customised SteamVR overlay so that users can create and view the real environment while engaged with any other VR videogame or application. Users need to place the bottom tip of the right controller where they want to corner of the ‘view window’ to be a pull the trigger. Once the four corners are placed, the view is created, and will remain fixed in place.
The app is planned for release in Early Access sometime in August, 2018, and as such the developers warn that users might experience graphics bugs, particularly when switching from Standing to Seated tracking and also point out that the user interface is currently in a rough form and the feed from the camera might be suboptimal.
The FragmentVR app works using the HTC Vive front camera, and as such only works with the HTC Vive headset. Work is currently ongoing to add in support for the HTC Vive Pro.
The development team expect the software to be in Early Access for roughly six months, and during that time work will continue on a full UI redesign, along with better hardware support and optimising the performance output for the camera.