Valve’s Index HMD now has ‘Room View 3D’, a new camera passthrough mode which delivers “a more accurate representation of your environment”.
The new mode uses computer vision algorithms developed by Valve, Arcturus Industries, and Occipital. Occipital is a computer vision company which offers sensors and algorithms for positional tracking and scene geometry scanning and Arcturus’ tech seems to be made by a team that worked at Occipital.
To enable the new mode, simply toggle Room View to 3D in the Camera tab of the SteamVR settings. It requires SteamVR 1.13, which is currently only available by opting in to the SteamVR Beta.
Changing Room View Style to Opaque will give the best representation of what the technology can do; though it still works with the stylized modes.
We briefly tested out this new 3D Room View mode just before publication. It does exactly what it says; delivers a passthrough image that looks to have the correct scale and depth for most objects.
However, just like with the 3D-correct Passthrough+ on Facebook’s Oculus headsets, there is visible “warping” on objects when moving your head even slightly fast.
That’s not to say the experience is the same- the Oculus cameras are black & white, whereas the Index shows the true colors of your room, a significant step forward.
Where Valve’s tech seems to fail, however, is on close up objects. We found our hands would have significant distortion, to the point of not being recognizable.
Valve says this functionality is “rapidly evolving”, and suggests we can expect “more experiments” over the coming months. Given the potential of those high resolution color cameras, we’ll keep a close eye on new computer vision features for Index.