Brandon Jones is a WebGL developer who started implementing WebVR into the Chrome web browswer as a part of his 20% project at Google. He’s been working on it for the past year in order to get VR into the browser. You can find the latest WebVR-enabled Chrome build here.
Brandon talks about the moment and growth of WebVR over the past year, and how he sees VR as an area of computing that people are very interested in. WebVR and WebGL are very interrelated areas, and so one could consider that he’s working all the time on WebVR.
He talks about the Khronos Group standards committee for WebGL, and the fact that the WebVR is currently homeless in terms of a standards committee and it’s uncertain as to whether the W3C or Khronos Group will be the governing body. You can check out the latest WebVR spec here.
Reducing latency is the number one focus for working on WebVR in Chrome, and the latest latency with a DK1 was 64ms of seconds for motion to photos, and is likely lower with the DK2 with the faster framerates. They’ve also integrated timewarp into WebVR in Chrome in order to help with reducing perceived latency. He talks about some of the ongoing work for Chrome to make realtime WebGL rendering a lot faster, as well as some of the other optimizations to the browser that could be made to make it more efficient if it’s known that the output display is VR.
Google is not targeting WebVR for the Gear VR at first because it’s not meant to be an end-to-end VR experience. In other words, they’re not creating browsers that work in VR, but rather making VR experiences that work in the browser.
Brandon talks about Google Cardboard, and some of the initial reactions to it and the growing interest around it. His own personal reaction to seeing Cardboard for the first time was to laugh in his manager’s face, but he very quickly went to “This is crazy!” to “This is brilliant!” after trying it out and seeing it’s potential. He talks about some of the more compelling Cardboard experiences he’s had, and how he sees it being able to fill a need for consuming 360-degree videos, 360-degree photos, and other ephemeral content.
He talks about some of the future optimizations that Unity and web browsers could make in order to streamline the viewing of WebGL content on the web. The current downloads are fairly monolithic and could be made to be more friendly for the web by dynamically streaming of assets and content.
Finally, Brandon doesn’t see the web as a platform for Triple AAA VR gaming since it’s not optimized to be able to maximize the use of native resources. Instead, he sees that web will be great for sharing ephemeral content that you don’t want to download. He also sees that a lot of the framework for the metaverse is already here with the Internet and cites Vlad Vukicevic who said, “We already have the metaverse, it’s the Internet in 2D!”
For more information on WebVR, then be sure to check it out here.
Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio