June 2, 2016
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  • mobile VR
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  • web VR

The Evolution of Web and Mobile VR

Dan Borkhus

Dan Borkhus is the co-founder of Turing VR and heads up the company’s business development and strategy.

Since its inception, the web has changed the way we work, play, create, and connect. The internet is, at its core, a universally accessible network of information, but what does that look like when we start to bring that information out of the browser we use most often? Virtual reality has the ability to extend this network into something with which we can actually interact.

Power-hungry desktop VR applications like Eve Valkyrie and The Climb are providing the initial “wow” factor to VR and are driving early adoption; however, we believe that the web and mobile will be the next great drivers of mainstream VR adoption.

Current limitations in mobile VR, such as positional tracking and low-level rendering optimizations, are currently being worked out and are getting better every day, thanks to initiatives like Google’s Daydream.

Tony Parisi, one of the first WebVR pioneers, addresses the issues facing the current VR ecosystem in this video and talks about how those issues can be solved with a tighter integration between the web and VR, which can also open up content development to more people.

For example, Parisi notes that problems with native VR apps include:

  • Giant Downloads: Huge file sizes and long download times make the experience discontinuous.

  • App Store Gatekeepers: The Oculus Store has had over 100 apps submitted and has only approved around 40 to date.

  • Proprietary Stacks: Development engines such as Unity and CryENGINE are great, but developers don’t have access to their source code.

  • Closed Culture: Code is rarely shared, and IP is held tightly.

  • Experts Only: Developing a native VR app that has a good chance of getting approved in the Oculus Store or Steam often requires a team of developers that have extensive game development experience and have a close contact point with the Oculus and Steam development relations team. The ecosystem needs to provide better tools to allow for more diverse content in VR.

In contrast, web apps today offer:

  • Instant Access (No Downloads): If you want to experience web content, you just click on a link or type in an address, and you’re instantly connected to that content. The same will be true of web content in VR. There are no long downloads and no app stores; you’re always a link away from your favorite content.

  • No Gatekeepers: There is no app store store approval process restricting the content that’s available.

  • Instant Publishing: When you publish a web experience, it is instantly available to everyone with access to the internet. This same model should exist in VR.

  • Your Choice of Tools: The web offers a lot more freedom and flexibility to developers to choose their own stack of tools and develop in a way that makes sense for them.

  • A Culture of Collaboration: The web is built on open standards, with people sharing code and working together to make the web better for everyone, regardless of hardware or other proprietary factors.

  • Another video, by another leader of the WebVR movement, Josh Carpenter, offers an in-depth look into design with WebVR.

Our company, turingVR, is developing a home interface called holos for a wide variety of VR content, including WebVR, and we welcome Ionic community members to join us and the WebVR community and create the future of the web in VR. You can start developing 2D web apps for multitasking in VR with HTML, CSS, and Javascript via our card framework, or even start creating immersive 3D web experiences with WebGL via A-Frame, Mozilla’s WebVR framework.

We want to help developers build compelling web-based VR experiences quickly and easily, and we firmly believe that WebVR will be the portal to open up content development to an army of web developers, artists, educators, and more.

If you want to get started developing web content in VR, feel to reach out to me or my co-founder Tyler. We’d love to discuss the future of the web in VR and get you started with development for this emerging platform!

Dan Borkhus