The year 2017 was called the Year of Virtual Reality (VR), with so many different events taking place throughout the year. Among the most notable are Vive (perfect headset to view 3D configurators in VR) and Oculus, which went over the counter millions of times. Google announced Daydream and Xiaomi/Tencent a new head-mounted display. The next major release was Playstation VR, which came out at the end of 2016.
Below you can see a visualization of the HTC Vive by MarcoRomero:
As expected, the importance of VR content has increased since headsets came onto the market. In gaming and video studios, however, which deal with the creation of content, the output is slower than expected by the early users. Furthermore, due to the curated and proprietary aspects of VR App Stores, it will take a long time for large amounts of content to become available and for users to understand exactly what content is available where and for which headset.
Fortunately, WebVR has a positive impact on VR`s future. With WebVR, VR is distributed and presented in a headset-independent way that allows content creators to create VR experiences and distribute them directly to consumers via a web browser.
While the headset launches attracted all the attention, 2017 was also a great year for WebVR. We`d like to pay tribute to the incredible work of developers who implemented WebVR in their browsers. Brandong & Josh at Chrome, Vlad & Kearwood at Firefox, Mike & Laszlo at Samsung, Frank-Oliver at Microsoft and many more. Last month, WebVR 1.0 landed in the Firefox Nightly Build. It is planned to move from Chrome beta builds to a first integrated stable version by the end of the year. Microsoft has just announced experimental WebVR support in Edge. In short, we are at a turning point for VR on the web. It becomes reality. You can already teleport to Mars with one click via your web browser.
These possibilities are becoming more and more standard. I`ve spent the last 5 years looking at how WebGL has evolved. In the beginning, concepts presented for the display in the browser were rather funny. The developers specialized in iOS and Internet Explorer, but many believed that this would never work. To condemn the potential of a technology by judging only today`s situation clearly misses the point. And if the frame rate was initially controversial, it is now quite solid and will only get better if the browser evolves as well.
Most VR content today is games that can be created, paid for and downloaded in the studio. But if VR is to become the next big computer platform, most of the content will be user-generated, free, web-based, and much broader than we think today.
Why is WebVR so important for the future of VR? There are several reasons:
One of the most frequently asked questions in the VR world is: How can we get people to return to their headsets? The industry`s answer so far has been to bring content to headsets through app stores. WebVR opens the door to a much more scalable approach and this is to bring headsets to content. We should focus on getting the content where the audience is, namely Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Reddit, Twitter or Google… all those online publishing platforms that have a much wider reach than the brand new VR app stores. The distribution of music, images and videos has increased significantly, as has VR content.
VR is very fragmented at the moment, there is a new VR headset that comes to market pretty much every week, with its own ecosystem. WebVR does a lot of work to make cross-platform compatibility possible. In other words, it`s pretty easy to make a WebVR experience compatible with all headsets.
In 2018 nobody wants to download anything anymore. They want content that`s just a click away. WebVR is the only way to allow VR to be one click away.
Of course, WebVR doesn`t mean that we won`t need appstores anymore. Games and movies offer a better experience when downloaded and many people looking for the content will go to the app stores to find them. The great thing is that WebVR is fully compatible with native applications to embed WebVR content so they can also benefit frm distribution in stores and use the Web as a scalable infrastructure.
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