Over the past several years, the technologies underlying the modern internet have begun to mature. The web has gone through a second renaissance, resulting in the unprecedented growth of more intelligent experiences that can be ported across a growing number of devices.
The browser, more than ever, enables an increasing number of innovative scenarios to come to life. An emerging community of developers have begun to use web technologies to create connected scenarios for a growing field in computing: the recently reborn virtual reality industry.
Graphics and networking technologies have seen dramatic increases in performance on desktop and mobile devices, and VR has been waiting. Over the past three years, web technologists around the world have been preparing for commercial VR headsets. The development of new libraries, additional features in web browsers, and entirely new definitions for what a website can be have all contributed to the birth of a vibrant and powerful platform for immersive displays.
In an increasingly connected world, there are a number of advantages that browser-based VR provides over the traditional desktop or mobile application development model. A single, central codebase reduces the overhead of managing builds and deploying to multiple platforms, and the open nature of web applications removes the need for app store approval and certification at release time. Developers can easily integrate existing tools, libraries and frameworks into their new VR sites, taking advantage of the ecosystem that has evolved over the past decade around the modern web, while users benefit from ease of access and discovery.
Today, many of those hurdles have been addressed, and major technology companies are throwing their weight behind immersive technology. Google, Microsoft and Mozilla have all publicly announced their intent to bring support for VR experiences to their desktop browsers in the coming months. Facebook has added native 360 photo and video playback to its site, and mobile browsers are able to seamlessly act as platforms for immersive websites. Oculus announced a Chromium-based, VR-first browser (code-named Carmel), at its recent developer conference, and the industry continues to drive forward at the intersection of the web and immersion.
New frameworks, languages and web-based editors have come onto the scene to aid in the creation of 3D content as technologists turn more frequently to virtual and augmented technologies to create innovative new experiences. The web as we know it is changing.