Right now, the camera doesn’t provide much beyond this boundary feature and a full “chaperone” mode, which replaces your entire environment with the camera view. It’s HTC and Valve’s answer to the vital question “How do you drink a glass of whiskey in VR?”, and while it’s a pretty good one, it’s still not hugely ambitious. But the technology opens up a broader range of possibilities. Third-party developers will be able to tap into it for their own purposes, and an HTC spokesperson says that its software can map 3D space, which would let virtual objects respond to real-world ones — similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens room-scanning tech.
Including front-facing cameras in VR headsets enable, at the very least, some nice quality of life features.
Positional tracking is what everybody always wanted motion controls to be. In the above example, if we could accurately track the position of our hand in space (i.e. knowing with absolute certainty where it was every single time we checked, in X, Y, and Z) then we could let a physics engine take over and actually launch the ball correctly. It’s not triggering a pitching event in this example, but rather our actual position of the hand is influencing a physics engine. This is how reality works, and it feels much better.
I don’t usually link to forum posts, but this one by Krejlooc on Neogaf explains in-depth, yet in plain English, a) what positional tracking is and b) why VR enthusiasts should be stupidly excited for Valve’s solution.
Okay, if we ignore the obvious hypocrisy, Molyneux has some really good points.
Molyneux commented, “The bizarre thing is a huge amount of effort and time and money goes into researching the tech, like the Kinect tech and scanning the bodies, and there’s always this one line that hardware manufacturers – whether it be Microsoft or anyone else – say and that’s ‘we can’t wait to see what happens when it gets into the hands of developers.’ Now if Apple had said that when they introduced the iPhone, I don’t think we’d ever end up with the iPhone! What really should happen is that they put a similar amount of money into researching just awesome real world applications that you’ll really use and that work robustly and smoothly and delightfully.”