Happy birth day! AR now runs in all the major web browsers

Rob Manson
Jun 8, 2017 · 3 min read
Image licensed under Creative Commons from audiinsperation

June 2017 is an exciting time in the web. It’s been a long time coming (see our presentation from Seoul 2010), and today we are watching the birth of a new industry as the last big browser joins the fold. All of the web standards required for AR on the web have been available for some time now, yet they have not been consistently accessible while Apple’s iOS left a gaping hole in the web platform. But as of June 6th 2017 this changed when Apple announced support for WebRTC at WWDC. This means that we can now access the iPhone and iPad camera using open web standards which brings “video-see-thru” AR in the browser to another Billion plus devices.

We’ve been delivering this type of experience in the browser since we first launched our open source awe.js library in 2012. And we launched the first version of our self-service awe.media platform in 2016 making it easy for anyone (not just developers) to create these type of experiences. While we were able to deliver “video-see-thru” AR to well over 2 Billion Android and Computer browsers, our users wanted complete coverage that included iOS. Now our vision can be fully realised and from September you can truly create web-based Mixed Reality (VR & AR) that runs on any device — mobile, tablet, computer or head mounted display.

The timing for this couldn’t be better too. Last month we released an update to our platform that added a powerful UI for creating rich Location based AR functionality. This makes it easy for you to add images, videos and 3D objects to specific locations. You can even setup “active areas” that automatically shows you specific content when you’re in that location. Simply walk into one of your active areas to see your content dynamically update.

Up until now we’ve had to enable you to setup a “fallback” experience for iOS users showing a 360° image, video or grid background because the camera wasn’t accessible. But of course now that is changing. If you haven’t already, then now is the perfect time to setup a free trial to see just how easy it is to create these web-based Mixed Reality experiences — you can do this right now at https://try.awe.media.

Another reason this is perfect timing is that we’ve recently demonstrated the first “ready to release” example of Natural Feature Tracking in a web browser. Our platform already supports the use of ARToolkit style markers. In fact you can see a simple video demonstration of all the aspects of Mixed Reality (VR & AR) that we currently support right now. But now this new development allows you to use any reasonably unique image like a poster, magazine or book cover, product package or photo in your web-based AR experience. And all without any app store approvals, downloads or updates. No apps to install at all — just share a link, people click on it and it works.

These developments aren’t the end of the good news either. The great team at CSIRO/Data61 have also contributed their open source solution that makes web-based 3D scenes work with Microsoft’s Hololens. This works amazingly well and is definitely something we’ll be integrating into our platform soon.

On top of that we’re working on all sorts of exciting new features including visual search, offline mode, push notifications, richer 3D support with clip animations so you can make your 3D content more dynamic and more.

So we’d like to wish AR on the web a happy birth day of sorts. Of course this is still early days and we need to crawl before we can walk. But it won’t be long before we’re off an running. There will be no stopping us then as this is how Mixed Reality can really gain mass adoption.

Rob Manson

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Rob’s the original evangelist for mixed reality (AR & VR) using open web standards. He’s also CEO & co-founder of the http://awe.media platform.