Virtual reality has come a quite long way since Oculus Rift entered the stage a few years ago, opening up a whole new range of possibilities to experience digital content. Although its use cases were blurry and undefined, it gained huge traction which lead to Facebook acquiring Oculus for $2 billion. Such great expectations also lead to the inevitable influence of VR on the web, which is not likely to be a 2D exclusive environment by the year 2020.
As one of the main players advocating an open and free web, Mozilla has been actively helping chart the course of virtual reality on the web. As a result of their exploration of the area, the MozVR project was founded, which today is one of the key contributors to WebVR standards alongside Brandon Jones from the Google Chrome team. These contributors recently teamed up to announce the version 1.0 release of the WebVR API proposal. This is a big step for the future of virtual reality on the web so let’s have a look at what this means.
Note: Our very own Patrick Catanzariti covered WebVR and how to get started last year at SitePoint, so if you haven’t dipped your fingers into the big and immersive world of VR, make sure to check out his article.
Concretely, as detailed in the official Mozilla Hacks blog post, the updated APIs offer various improvements. These are in a nutshell:
- VR specific handling of device rendering and display.
- The ability to traverse links between WebVR pages.
- An input handling scheme that can enumerate VR inputs, including six degrees of freedom (6DoF) motion controllers.
- Accommodation of both sitting and standing experiences.
- Suitability for both desktop and mobile usage.
Feel free to check out the API draft for more changes and details (especially if you have tinkered with VR before).
The next steps?
The 1.0 APIs are expected to land in Firefox Nightly (the unstable daily build of Firefox) by summer of this year. If you want to get involved, keep in mind that both three.js and the WebVR Polyfill accept pull requests to support these latest APIs. Status updates on the platforms supported can be found on iswebvrready.org or Bugzilla (Mozilla’s issue tracker) if you want to dive into the conversation. Last but not least, there is an evolving documentation section on Mozilla Developer Network on everything WebVR.
Curious yet? Watch this space and we will keep you updated with the newest changes to VR technology. In the meantime why not try out the demos on MozVR yourself? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section!
Elio is a open source designer and founder of Ura Design. He coordinates community initiatives at SitePoint as well. Further, as a board member at Open Labs Hackerspace, he promotes free software and open source locally and regionally. Elio founded the Open Design team at Mozilla and is a Creative Lead at Glucosio and Visual Designer at The Tor Project. He co-organizes OSCAL and gives talks as a Mozilla Tech Speaker at various conferences. When he doesn’t write for SitePoint, he scribbles his musings on his personal blog.
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