Monday, February 29, 2016

Moving towards WebVR 1.0

Consumer VR is at our doorsteps, and it’s sparking the imagination of developers and content creators everywhere. As such it’s no surprise that interest in WebVR is booming. Publications like the LA Times have used WebVR to explore the landscape of Mars, and a doctor was able to save the life of a little girl by taking advantage of Sketchfab’s VR features. The creativity and the passion of the WebVR community has been incredible!

Those of us who have been defining and implementing the API feel a responsibility to make sure that it keeps pace with the current state of VR hardware and software. That’s not always easy with the breakneck speed with which the field has been evolving, and as we look at the API as it exists today there’s some significant disconnects from the realities of modern VR.

A quick refresher about how we arrived at the point that we're at now: When WebVR was first conceived by Vlad Vukicevic (April 2014) Oculus had just barely announced the DK2 and the only VR headset most people could get was the DK1. The Vive, 6DoF controllers, Hololens, and GearVR were still behind closed doors at this point. Cardboard had only just been announced when we first started making builds available. The APIs used to interact with the hardware that was available looked very different than it does today. That’s why in my initial blog post about the API I said “Keep in mind that these interfaces absolutely, without question, WILL change”.

We’re taking that sentiment to heart, and in the interest of keeping WebVR relevant and (hopefully) a bit more future proof we’re proposing some major, backwards-compatibility-breaking changes. You can see the new proposed spec here, but I wanted to cover some of the changes in a bit more detail and go into the rational behind them.