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Valve gives developers access to the Vive’s front-facing camera

Now that the first virtual reality headsets are out in the wild, we’re about to see some huge leaps in the sort of content being made with this hardware in mind. To foster that process, Valve is opening up access to some more of the HTC Vive’s capabilities.

Yesterday, the company released a new stable version of its OpenVR SDK. This gives developers the ability to access the Vive’s front-facing camera for the first time, according to a report from Tom’s Hardware.

The front-facing camera allows the headset to track static and moving objects in the area around the player. It’s the component that underpins the hardware’s chaperone system — a safety measure designed to give users an awareness of the space around them — but developers could come up with any number of ways to take advantage of it.

Related: HTC’s Vive is so popular, it might split into its own separate company

Valve has plenty of experience working with developers thanks to its Steam storefront, so it’s not surprising to see the company attempt to make the Vive as attractive as possible to content creators. Moreover, an accommodating move like this one is bound to compare favorably to the more restrictive measures taken by rival Oculus earlier this month.

A recent update to the Oculus app put a stop to players using Vive hardware to play Rift exclusives via a piece of third-party software. It’s easy to understand why this was the necessary course of action — but it paints Oculus as a company looking to protect its interests, rather than help VR flourish.

Meanwhile, Valve’s efforts to improve the capabilities of the OpenVR SDK are sure to curry favor with developers. If VR hardware is to make it big, the relationships manufacturers uphold with content creators and audiences alike are going to be crucial. In this case, Valve seems to be making some canny decisions.