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How to make your Surface PC work with a third-party camera for Windows Hello face recognition

Logitech Brio 4K
Logitech Brio 4K (Image credit: Windows Central)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my recent experiences switching from Mac to Windows, moving from a MacBook Pro to new Surface Pro. And though the transition was mostly smooth, I noted that I had some issues getting my Logitech BRIO webcam (opens in new tab) working with my Surface Pro for Windows Hello face authentication.

Surface Pro impressions from a recovering Mac addict

Earlier this week, Logitech reached out to me to explain why its webcam wasn't working for face authentication and suggest a way to fix the problem. From Logitech:

Since Surface Pro tablets feature a built-in IR camera for Windows Hello, they default to that camera and don't have any alternate settings currently enabled, which would allow users to select other cameras, such as the Logitech BRIO. The only way around this feature is to disable the built-in IR camera in Device Manager, which will allow the Logitech BRIO to work instead of the Hello built-in camera. At this time, there is not a way to easily switch between the two cameras.

Lo and behold, the solution worked. Here's how to use Windows Device Manager to disable your Surface's infrared (IR) camera and default to a third-part cam for Windows Hello.

How to disable your PC's camera using Windows Device Manager

Before you disable your Surface's built-in IR camera to use a third-party option for Windows Hello, ensure that the secondary camera supports Windows Hello face recognition and that it's plugged in and set up. Then follow these steps:

  1. Search for "Device Manager" in your task bar search field.
  2. Click on Windows Device Manager.
  3. Scroll down to "System Devices," and click the right-facing arrow to open the menu.

  1. Scroll down in that menu until you find "Microsoft IR Camera Front."
  2. Right-click on "Microsoft IR Camera Front."
  3. Click to select Disable device.

  1. Click Yes in the pop-up box to confirm your decision to disable the camera. You should see a small downward-arrow icon to designate that the device is disabled.

Your Surface PC should default to the third-party camera for Windows Hello, but if not, make sure the device is set up and working properly otherwise. It's also a good idea to recalibrate Windows Hello using your new camera. And you might have to restart your PC.

How to improve Windows Hello facial recognition

You can make sure your third-party camera gets a good read on your face for authentication using these steps:

  1. In your task bar search field, type "Sign-in options".
  2. Click Sign-in options.
  3. Under the section titled Windows Hello, click the Improve recognition button.

  1. Follow the on-screen prompts and make sure you're looking straight into the camera.

  1. You should receive a confirmation that the process is complete. If not, repeat these steps until you do.

Wrapping up

This easy process solved my issue with the Logitech Brio camera and my Surface Pro's Windows Hello authentication. Of course, the downside here is that if I want to use Windows Hello when I'm away from my office and my Logitech Brio, I need to re-enable the default Microsoft IR camera. It's relatively easy to do so (just reverse the process detailed here), but I wish Microsoft built some setting in that let you use a third-party camera for face authentication when docked to a monitor and webcam and then reverted to the built-in IR cam when you're out and about.

Anyway, a big thanks to Logitech for reaching out to help me solve my problem.

Al Sacco is content director of Future PLC's Mobile Technology Vertical, which includes AndroidCentral.com, iMore.com and WindowsCentral.com. He is a veteran reporter, writer, reviewer and editor who has professionally covered and evaluated IT and mobile technology, and countless associated gadgets and accessories, for more than a decade. You can keep up with Al on Twitter and Instagram.

11 Comments
  • Huh, good tip. I have this very issue with Surface Studio. See, even I learn things here! lol
  • I have absolutely no idea why you don't want to use the build in system... is it not possible to use one for Hello and the other for your video needs?
  • Maybe the third party camera has a better camera than the builtin one? This could be the case as the computers get older but the cameras keep improving. Other than that I don't know why you'd opt to not use the builtin one on a desktop machine.
  • btw. I love your articles Al, I just couldn't wrap my head around this one...
  • Thanks. I use a Surface Pro docked with multiple monitors. The Surface Pro is off to the side, and it's much lower than my other monitors. So if I want to use Windows Hello face recognition with the Surface, I have to stoop down in front of it. It's much easier to use the BRIO webcam atop my main monitor. Then I just have to look straight ahead at my screen.
  • aha, that makes sense. I vaguely remember that I used to have something with different hardware profiles set up in the past with a dell latitude and a docking station. So that it would automatically switch certain hardware components when docked. I don't remember if it was something within Windows (xp) or some Dell software. I'll check
  • What about when you undock the Surface Pro? I guess PIN or password.
  • Yep. Read the last paragraph of the story.
  • I bought a Brio a month and a half ago, and have used disabled the built in camera pretty much since the first week. Every now and then I have to go back and disable again, but easy enough to do. 
  • You know, when you write these kind of articles "It would be better if we had this option in Windows" I think you should create a feedback item and get the readers, whom agree, to vote for it :) Personally I think Windows would be a lot better if Microsoft started to teach Windows users that any kind of complaints or feature request to random people, will not improve Windows, but using Feedback Hub will.
    ... and here is the link to upvote that suggestion;) - https://aka.ms/Kpmy0p
  • This no longer works after the latest update.