Interested in learning what's next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Register today.

You want to play virtual reality games, but you don’t want to rack up a $10,000 veterinarian bill because you stepped on the dog. That’s reasonable, and one of the headsets has a solution to this.

HTC’s Vive, which it built in partnership with SteamVR creator Valve, has an outward-facing camera that can show you the world around you. The device launched today for $800, and it specializes in room-scale VR. This is a kind of simulated environment that tracks your movement as you walk around a space that’s at most 15-feet-by-15-feet. It’s difficult to walk around a room while you have a screen strapped to each one of your eyeballs. To solve this, Valve enables players to instantly call up the camera at any time by double-tapping the System button on either one of the Vive motion controllers. But this doesn’t work exactly like you would expect. Instead of filling your vision with a high-definition color image, you get something more along the lines of Terminator vision.

Go ahead and check out the video below to see what I mean, and then I’ll explain why SteamVR works this way:


GamesBeat Summit Next 2022

Join gaming leaders live this October 25-26 in San Francisco to examine the next big opportunities within the gaming industry.

Register Here

The camera on the front of the Vive could give you a full-color picture, but you’d probably find it really uncomfortable. Looking at the world through a camera that is sitting a few inches off your face would likely give you some woozy feelings in your stomach. Additionally, most camera lenses do not match the same field-of-view as your vision. If Valve gave you that 1-to-1 vision, your brain would likely reject it.

Because of this, SteamVR abstracts the camera feed. It gives you an outline of the items in the world in a monotone color. This is all the information you need to avoid ramming your shin into a table.

It’s a clever trick, and it’s one more example of how the engineers behind VR are figuring out how to present this new tech to consumers in a safe way.

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Learn more about membership.