WebVR: Virtual Reality from your Browser
It’s no new phenomenon that browsers these days have the capability to host interactive 3D graphics. In fact, people have been talking about using WebGL to render lifelike graphics in various different implementations for over half a decade. What is new, though, is the readily available open source libraries that even novice developers can use to build VR experiences in a fraction of the time. Thanks to the hard work of a handful of dedicated enthusiasts, a world of new content has opened up for the web — a world known as WebVR.
What is WebVR?
WebVR is an open source API, with major browsers’ engineers currently leading the development process. The purpose of this API is to give developers the ability to generate Virtual Reality experiences while using the web — making it directly accessible from a browsers URL with no download or installation process necessary.
Though still in the early stages, WebVR technology is already promising, making it apparent that this system will shortly be revolutionizing the way we use and build websites.
Examples of Companies Using WebVR
Dashboard VR is a WebVR experience that presents the user with real time local information. Using web APIs, it continuously shares updates regarding local weather, stock prices, current news headlines, and the time. Take a look at “V”, universal dashboard for WebVR.
Sketchfab is the world’s largest platform to publish, discover, and share 3D content online via VR, with a community of over half a million creators contributing over a million scenes. Through Sketchfab, users can interact with everything from cartoons to famous landmarks worldwide.
Stitch, an immersive WebGL beat maker, uses a combination of virtual reality, audio spatialization, and various 3D shapes to create soundscapes. Here, the users goal is to play and loop the shapes to create different beats and environments.
INSPIRIT is a fully interactive puzzle story inviting users to help a hero illuminate his dark world using assorted gems and shapes. In fact, this application was one of the first VR experiences for the web.
Browsers That Support WebVR
WebVR is currently available in Firefox Nightly builds, Chrome 56+ for Android, experimental builds of Chromium for Windows, and in the Samsung Internet Browser for Gear VR.
To add WebVR to a mobile site, one can currently use the WebVR Polyfill to provide support for Cardboard mobile devices, including iOS and Android.
How websites will evolve with WebVR is still uncertain. As new innovations like this come along, websites will still need to remain practical and offer a quick way for a user to scan and consume information. Although WebVR won’t be the best solution to display and promote every brand and product, it does have the potential to add a little something extra to virtually every website.