In this article we will discuss what a Virtual Reality (VR)-capable browser actually brings with it. Many users expect this to mean starting their browser (almost browser support today 3D configurators on WebGL-basis, setting up their head-mounted display and immediately immersing themselves in a complete VR browsing experience. But of course this is not the case and it will take a long time until these experiences will be possible.
Adding WebVR does not make the browser a complete virtual reality experience. Instead, it provides an API that allows developers to create VR content in the context of a website. Imagine that. You browse Amazon and find a jacket, a TV or a bike or whatever interests you. If Amazon`s developers used the WebVR API, you could add a button labeled “View in VR” that allows you to view the object in 3D on a 1:1 scale using a VR headset. In the case of a garment, for example, you could walk around the product, lean in and search the seams as if it were actually sitting in front of you. You can also imagine similar experiences with teaching tools, data visualization, mapping etc. WebVR gives developers the tools they need to do this.
And of course there will also be games. This is so self-evident that it`s not even worth mentioning.
What`s the status quo?
Chrome has been allowing VR to be displayed for several years now. This means that WebVR features are only added to Chrome itself when the API is mature and there are enough developers and users interested. It is not possible to make a clear prognosis as to whether VR will make a breakthrough this time or whether there will be a flop again. Of course it makes no sense to add new features to Chrome if only a tiny fraction of the enthusiasts will be able to use them. In addition, there are very few VR devices that are open to developers at this point, so it`s still very clear what functionality will be possible at the end of the day. If we commit ourselves too early to an API, we risk excluding devices that don`t match the assumptions of a very small sample set.
However, if we wait until VR becomes ubiquitous before we make it a real part of the platform, we will be very much behind. Maintaining an experimental open code area of the browser for VR development gives us the opportunity to work out the kinksin the API implementation without disrupting the core code base.
Currently many examples support the Oculus Rift and we will also look at the support for Cardboards SDK. All VR solutions with an Open Source SDK can be considered. We should also mention that this is a by-product for us. So we won`t integrate every new VR gadget immediately.
We will update our content for WebVR on a regular basis to ensure that you stay up to date with future Chrome development.
At this point, we must also go into the latency period in more detail. The first and last thing anyone mentions when talking about VR development. In order to achieve the mystical “presence” we are aiming for, a latency time of more than 20 ms should not be exceeded. The problem is that browsers are not exactly known for their low latency. But what about the Chrome-Browser?