I don’t always try to get to the bottom of a new technology before there’s commercial demand for it. But when I do, it’s because the potential of a technology really stands out. And that’s the case with the dawn of WebVR.
I’d tried a bunch of the WebVR demos on my flat monitor. Yup, that provides a 3D experience like anything from VRML on. But the kick with WebVR is that your 3D stuff can get rendered either on a monitor, or in a VR headset.
Two weeks ago, this happened:
Now, I’m not enough of a gearhead to wade into the “high-end VR” gear this early in the game. Both the Rift and the Vive have barely started to ship, they cost a ton, they require a super-high-end computer, and delays involving the shipping of the first sets are all anyone is talking about.
But the Gear VR is easy-peasy. Pick it up at a retail outlet for a modest price and go.
But, as Samsung points out, their support for WebVR is experimental at best at this point:
The Dawn of WebVR on Gear VR
“We at Samsung are actively working on and committed to support WebVR. The WebVR support is “experimental” status as the specification is still evolving. The current release is using the deprecated API set, and we hope to update it soon to the latest WebVR draft.”
All that being said – I did experience WebVR on my headset. The range of choices was pretty scarce – and the stuff wasn’t whiz-bang content like the other demos I can access with my Gear. I’ve been on rollercoasters and I’ve been surrounded by sharks. The WebVR stuff is nowhere near that ambitious. Yet.
Some of the WebVR stuff just appeared in a rectangle, but with a distinct 3D-stereoscopic thing going on. But some of it – especially the most primitive stuff (that deprecated API?) – actually popped out of the rectangle and immersed me in full surround immersive experience.
There were a lot of extra buttons to push. Auto-detecting my setup would have been cool. Even cooler would have been if it jumped straight into VR mode when possible, rather than just giving me an interface to turn it on and set it up. But, as described above – this is a staggeringly new, and openly experimental setup.
And it works.
VR on the open web. Responsive VR on the open web.
Given that we’ve evolved to use the web to distribute all manner of content in all manner of media without the use of plugins – and that VR may just be the next big thing – that’s pretty exciting.