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VR: The Future of the Web?

09/06/2016

Virtual Reality (VR) has huge potential to change the way we view and interact with the web and the world in general. Although VR experiences are still largely experimental, with headsets very much in their infancy, we can now begin to imagine how the impact of VR will shape the future. Imagine an ecommerce website that surrounds you - one that you could walk around much like being in a shop. Or a virtual library you could browse, pull a book off the shelf and read. These are the kind of exciting experiences we can expect VR to deliver one day along with much more.

Mozilla, the company that brought us the Firefox web browser, are leading the next generation of the open web with the introduction of high performance Virtual Reality to the web browser (WebVR).  An organisation of developers, designers and researchers within Mozilla have built an experimental technology (webGL) that allows the rendering of accelerated 3D and 2D graphics via any compatible web browser.

The WebGL development community is for the moment quite small, however, a new open source framework called A-Frame is about to change all that by making the development of WebVR experiences possible through HTML. This means that the creation of 3D and VR experiences are now at the fingertips of developers all over the world eager to drive the next generation of the web.

Designing for VR has just got more exciting too with the release of Google Tilt Brush - a software tool that lets you paint life sized artwork in a three dimensional space. With Google Tilt Brush, your room is the canvas, so you can truly let your creativity run wild. Your artwork can then be shared with someone else who can experience it being repainted around them.

Currently we can access these experiences through hardware such as the Oculus Rift or a Google Cardboard holder - which is paired with your smart phone. With VR technology we can create our own 3D photos and videos, similar to taking a panorama photo only a full 360 degree sphere. This media can be then be re-experienced through VR hardware as if you or someone else were standing in the location it was created in - you could tilt your head up to see the sky above you or turn to see the world behind you.

Google have recently announced plans for Google Daydream, which will be released this autumn and aims to take mobile VR to the next level with Daydream ready Android phones. Daydream aims to bring popular app such as YouTube and Google Streetview to mobile VR.

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