The world is a mere month away from consumer availability of virtual reality headsets, and we’re starting to see more and more announcements about content for the new medium. With a massive influx of new VR users on the way, an increasing number companies are preparing their products and ideas for VR content. Experiencing content from the Internet is one of the things that is expected to be very popular in VR, and Google and Mozilla are getting ready for that to happen by building the WebVR API.
Mozilla has introduced the WebVR 1.0 API Proposal, which updates the API to include features for the latest crop of virtual reality hardware. When work on the WebVR API started, the only VR HMD that was available to the public was the Oculus Rift DK1, which had very limited capabilities. Much has changed since those early days. Now, we have full head tracking, motion controllers with six degrees of freedom (6DoF), and even roomscale tracking that lets you walk around the virtual environment. Mozilla has been working closely with the Google Chrome team to bring these features and more to WebVR.
“In the interest of keeping WebVR relevant and (hopefully) a bit more future proof we’re proposing some major, backwards-compatibility-breaking changes,” said Brandon Jones, a member of the Google Chrome team.
Mozilla said the WebVR 1.0 API will support desktop and mobile VR experiences, and it supports seated, standing and roomscale experiences. The latest revision of WebVR also features a new input scheme that enables the use of tracked motion controllers. Mozilla said that the new version of the API also changes the way that it handles device rendering and accessing the display. The older version used to mirror the image on both the VR HMD and the PC monitor because of the way the original Oculus Rift DK1 was treated by the graphics card. Current-generation hardware can be accessed directly through the graphics driver, so the image will no longer have to be mirrored.
Mozilla plans to roll a stable version of the WebVR 1.0 API out in a Firefox Nightly build within the first half of the year. For testing purposes, you can use an experimental version of Chromium with VR support. For information about how to use the new API, Mozilla has plenty of information to get you started in its announcement blog post, and you can find the full documentation here.