Today, VR is available when you have the right equipment set up properly, content downloaded, installed and launched. A bit of a bulky process, no? Can’t we just connect our goggles to websites? As in, type a URL or link through a search engine? Unfortunately, application program interfaces have yet allowed for such convenience, which means we shall download files, up to 10GBs, install, launch then play. So, the question becomes, how long until we can just jump into the browser and navigate seamlessly?
This first workshop dedicated to building out standards and setting expectations for the next web was W3C, in San Jose, CA, in October of 2016. This was a huge step forward. The primary purpose was “to bring together practitioners of the Web, Virtual Reality technologies and the industry to make the Open Web Platform a better delivery mechanism for VR experiences.” Essential, to pave the way for a spec of 3D browsing to become real and usable platforms.
We already have options for viewing websites while in virtual reality…. So, you’re in a 3D world, but you’re viewing 2D material. This is made possible by Steam, JanusVR, FullDive, and a few others. But again, everything is still flat. The ambitions we’re bolstering are to take on three geometric dimensions with yourself in the content! We want the interwebs not in VR but as VR!
Until recently browsers have not been geared towards VR content (nor AR, holograms, volumetric et cetera, but that is a much bigger conversation). However, practitioners gathered to strategize our march into the future and nearly all of the VR and browser industry have publically committed to develop an API. This effort will make experiencing virtual reality as easy as viewing a video or photo.
The origins of TheWebVR are with open-source software company, Mozilla, best known for it’s web browser FireFox. They began this web experiment in 2014, drafting an initial concept in collaboration with Google’s implementations. When they realized VR would be big, they considered what they do best. Build browsers. Voila. This is the approach many of us are taking with the virtual space, no? Name what we do best and do it in VR. If this is not where your heads at, then you are on the wrong side of the revolution! GET INVOLVED.
We’re obviously on the cusp of a new era for media. Looking to make VR available on our number one (#1) long-distance-communication platform, “the internet”, with TheWebVR
Building a browser from scratch would be a many-year endeavor. Therefore, the mentality has been to build a parallel web, using WebGL, copying many current features and short-cutting the way to a beta. By shipping a browser for people begin and you somewhat thwart the chicken vs. egg conundrum. This participation, creating WebVR content and demonstrating the possibilities nurtures and ultimately, expedites the process of building an alternative universe. The success of such a platform would catapult us out of the information age, and into the augmented age.
As experimental technology, we won’t know for sure how long it will take to be as broadly available as a smartphone. Let’s take a look at what we do know. The smartphone hit the lily suburbs until 2008, penetrating purses $800 at a time. It took five years to reach to reach this very multi billion-dollar audience. They are influenced by innovators and early adopters
Technology is adopted at an accelerated rate. Electricity was invented in 1873. It took forty-six (46) years to be used by one-quarter of American Population. The telephone in 1876 took thirty-five (35) years, Radio (31), Television (26), PC (16), Mobile phones (13), The web (7) smartphones (5) Virtual Reality…?
Today’s web continues to mature, a quarter-century of spinning a complex, intricate and seemingly infinite web of information. There is more content online than live stats. 25+ years evolved and around the world, we are interconnected in an unabashed technological collective foray into meta-existences. The ultimate frontier for information, the mazing, digital world. A frontier to the future. But its a jumble of code patchwork and rapture is dawning.
There are challenges in controlling distribution pipelines and economies.
The reward structure is also skewed unfairly. Take the media industry for example, you may post a great post that earns millions of views and y likes, but not see any revenue. Even worse, if you make a video that goes viral and has millions upon millions of views, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars in hosting fees. That doesn’t make much sense, either, does it? Not to mention, your identity is always at risk, most of your apps are trying to surveill you and passive consent of personal details to strangers has normalized. The point is, when we re-write the rules, everything will change.
Soon our content will be liberated from corporate servers, and blockchain-like technology will re-democratize our networks, but how and why the web will change is besides the point. We are having a digital renaissance as we move form the 2D web into the 3D web. And in this renaissance, we refresh, and together decide the future web, here and now by participating.
Anyone can join the conversation conversation, or begin to use WebVR API yourself, as it is available via Chromium, Firefox, Servo, Samsung, Carmel, and Edge. Support and hardware options are limited, and you can regularly compare and at http://www.IsWebVRready.org for platform statuses.
As noted by Chromium put it back in December, the objective here is to enable VR developers to broadly reach users across varying headsets with a single application. This is accomplished by providing access to the input and output capabilities as well as user’s position and orientation. Ultimately, this allows web apps to render a stereoscopic and three-geometric-dimension display.
Now, with all these, it is important to point out that VR-web-browsing is not the only answer to our future. Today, the most progressive web applications have you download a native app and/or use the browser by using an open source library, like electron. Local native apps we purchase through stores like Play, Steam, Oculus Home, et cetera allow for greater control over quality/distribution. They also unify regulation and have monetary benefits to the creators (sometimes). For packaged chunks of content, like a game, a movie or a software, it makes a lot of sense. But then again, how many if us are subscribed to streaming services and rent virtual space or services. Netflix, Adobe, Dropbox. Both markets will continue to exist in both the old and the new web.
Now is our chance to revamp the layout, we’ve a blueprint for our new information-ecosystem. Additionally, we must design new user interfaces (ui) and user experiences (ux), that builds for deep neuro connectivity in ways never before used with digital display. And, improve upon past mistakes.
With the foundation of a metaverse being laid the lines blur, and the meaning of “existence” rifts, we can only sit back and wonder what the world will look like for the next generations. How much of life will we live in virtual space, interacting with computer graphics, and artificially intelligent bots? Stimulating our senses with synthetic manmade creations. Is tech a drug? That’s another topic entirely. How much time to you spend online now – or with your phone? Today’s achievements in 3D media, are a large step forward for man, and a giant leap forward for machines.