Preparing Your Content for the Extended Reality (XR) Future

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This article on preparing for the XR future was originally published by Torque Magazine, and is reproduced here with permission.

You’ve probably heard rumblings in the tech industry around the innovations in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality. These mediums can broadly be defined as Extended Reality or XR.

My first venture into development in XR was in 2010 when I was exploring Flash development. My application was straightforward; show the webcam a Quick Response (QR) code and the program would superimpose a 3D model to the marker. In hindsight, this was such a life-changing moment for me. On top of being my first experience with manipulating digital 3D objects, it was also my first augmented reality experience accessible to the web.

The concept of a screen will likely be an afterthought in the coming years as we start blending the lines between our physical and digital selves. We will likely be surrounded by personalized versions of our environments and all of this personalization will be stored as meta in a database someplace. It is crucial for everyone to be able to have the power to control this meta and I’m optimistic WordPress will have a place in this because that’s where it really shines. WordPress allows you to do all of the hard things in content management with little knowledge of how it is working under the hood. I don’t need to know how to build a user system from the ground up…I can just use WordPress.

Content and meta will be a constant in our lives and, in my opinion, WordPress has secured a very nice spot in the future with the incorporation of the REST API. Anything that can make a HTTP request is now able to take data from WordPress and make intelligent decisions based on it. Maybe the structure of this approach will change in the coming years as different concepts such as GraphQL progress, but overall, the requirement of restful ways of handling data will likely remain constant for WordPress.

How Would an MVP WordPress Look in XR?

Last year, I sought to build a minimum viable VR WordPress using only the features we have available in a standard WordPress instance. I used Unity3D for my prototype as it was the lowest barrier to entry (FREE). The idea for this prototype was easy; use post data to populate UI elements in the VR world and use the featured 360 image of the post as a skybox around the user. My imagined use case for this was to be a mock travel blog.

Here’s what that looked like:

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Here’s the flow of data and requisites:

This really isn’t too rough of a concept. We make a REST call via C# using the WWW function. We take the data returned from WordPress and save it to a variable that the Unity Dev would assign using the simple drag and drop editor tooling. Unity takes the defined UI elements and applies the text stored in the variable to their mapped text object.

I’ve open sourced this project at the following repo. (Note: this was done in a two-day hackathon last year. This far from production ready code.)

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