Design4real VR AR Agency

WebVR - Virtual Reality from the Browser without an App

WebVR

WebVR is a JavaScript API that enables developers to create and control virtual reality (VR) experiences in the web browser. With WebVR, users can view VR content directly from the browser of their headset without having to download a device proprietary app from a store. This allows for easier distribution and accessibility of VR content. Essentially, VR technology is made accessible via the Internet by visiting a website where VR content is made available. This approach is completely different from the currently common distribution solutions of Meta, Pico or HTC Vive, which all rely on appstore solutions. 

Web VR uses WebGL, a JavaScript API, to render 3D graphics directly in the web browser. It allows users to experience VR content in a VR headset or on a computer screen. The technology is cross-platform, which means it works on different devices and operating systems.

Simple distribution Web VR allows developers to create and publish VR content for the web without being limited to specific platforms or hardware. This can help promote the adoption of VR technology and enable more people to enjoy VR experiences.

However, the adaptation of this technology is somewhat slow.

Why does Web VR rarely play a role as a distribution channel for VR content at the moment?

      •  

WebVR in action

Here is a WebVR example to test for yourself (Source:Playcanvas)

If WebVR can do so much, why do we still deliver most VR applications via an app?

The transition from WebVR to WebXR

WebVR, once a pioneer in the world of virtual reality on the web, has now officially handed over the reins to the WebXR Device API handed over. This change marks a significant advance in the way we experience virtual and augmented reality on the internet. WebXR not only offers broader support and more features, but also improved performance and is compatible with VR and AR. 

more here

On which devices does WebVR run?

WebVR is a technology that can be used to display virtual reality (VR) content on websites. WebVR applications can be used without installing an app and are therefore accessible to a wide audience.

To use WebVR, a compatible web browser and a VR-capable device must be available. Compatible web browsers include Chrome, Safari in experimental mode only and Edge. VR-enabled devices include:

  • Smartphones and tablets with VR headsets, such as Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Go.
  • Virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Valve Index.
  • Mixed reality headsets, such as Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap.

The requirements for VR-capable devices vary depending on the WebVR application. As a rule, VR headsets require a resolution of at least 1080 x 1200 pixels per eye and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. VR headsets should also have a built-in motion sensor and a joystick or controller.

While Web VR has some advantages over platform-specific apps, there are still some reasons why many VR applications run as apps:

 

Performance:

Web VR apps often have poorer performance compared to native VR apps. This is because, unlike native VR apps, web VR apps rely on the performance of the web browser and the underlying hardware. The web browser must render the VR app and associated resources (e.g., graphics, videos), which is less efficient compared to interacting directly with the hardware. In addition, native VR apps typically have more direct access to the hardware and can leverage special features such as native sensors, APIs, or hardware acceleration to achieve better performance and a higher frame rate. Native functions and integrations: Platform-specific applications can typically better access native features and integrations, which can improve functionality and user experience. For example, VR applications can access certain sensors or APIs that are not available in the web version.

Hardly any professional development tools

There are currently no established professional tools to create web VR content. Most available tools tend to be open source and hobbyist projects that often do not offer the same quality and functionality as professional tools for creating native VR applications such as Unity or Unreal. The lack of professional tools can make it difficult to create web VR content and may contribute to developers switching to platform-specific applications.

A hopeful candidate to become the software solution for WebGL based content is Playcanvas. This is also in our agency Design4real the preferred solution for creating 3D content for the web.

Appstore in the Quest VR goggles

WebVR has been replaced by the WebXR Device API, which offers broader support, more features and better performance and supports both VR and AR. 

Meta masters mart of VR app distribution with its proprietary app store ecosystem in the Quest

The Meta Quest is by far the most common headset on the market. This gives Meta almost a monopoly in terms of VR content distribution. The gatekeeper principle used by Meta, formerly known as Facebook, in their app store for the Quest VR headsets is a mechanism to control quality and ensure a safe user experience. Any app that wants to be included in the Meta Quest Store must go through a detailed review process and meet strict guidelines. Meta acts as a "gatekeeper" to ensure that only high-quality, safe, and user-friendly content is available in the store. This approach is intended to keep the ecosystem clean and trustworthy, but it can also be perceived as limiting creative freedom and openness. Critics argue that this model potentially limits developer diversity and innovation by raising the barriers to releasing new apps and disadvantaging smaller, independent developers. Furthermore, as is the case with all app stores, Meta naturally earns a share of all revenues generated by app developers via the store. Thus, it is not in the interest of the "gatekeeper" to promote other distribution channels.

The distribution of VR applications is currently strongly tied to the respective hardware, as VR applications have specific hardware requirements. Most VR headsets also have their own device-specific SDKs (software development kits) that developers must use to create applications for the specific headset. This results in VR applications having to be developed and deployed for specific headsets and platforms, which strongly ties the distribution of VR applications to the specific hardware.

Pico has been in the business of distributing apps largely copied the principle of the Metas Appstore for their consumer headsets. 

      •  

YouTube WebVR integration for 360° videos

Immersive 360° Youtube movies can also be played on almost any VR headset using WebVR technology. The feature is somewhat hidden in the browser's control bar. To find this content, you just have to search for 360° videos.

 

Adult Entertainment and WebVR

Adult entertainment providers rely on innovative solutions to distribute their explicit content, especially given the limitations that platforms like the Meta Store place on adult content. One solution to this is the use of WebVR technology, which has been used quite successfully by the adult sector. Through WebVR, providers can deliver interactive and immersive adult content directly through the browser via adult websites, bypassing the need to distribute content through the app stores.

Conclusion:

The future of VR content distribution lies on the Internet, as more and more users want to access VR content without having to download or install a separate application. The Internet provides a seamless and accessible way to experience VR content directly through a web browser without having to install special hardware or software. In addition, the development of web technologies such as WebVR and WebXR is on the rise, further driving the creation of VR content on the web. In addition, the distribution of VR content over the Internet can reach a larger audience and accelerate the overall adoption of VR technology.

      •  
clarence dadson

Let us advise you.

Are you interested in developing a virtual reality or 360° tour application? You may still have questions about budget and implementation. Feel free to contact me.

I am looking forward to you

Clarence Dadson CEO Design4real