#982: The Polys WebXR Awards Highlighting the Best WebXR Experiences of 2020

The Polys WebXR Awards was an awards show on February 20th, 2021 founded by Ben Irwin in collaboration with Sophia Moshasha and Julie Smithson. Irwin wanted to feature a lot of the work that’s been happening on the immersive web in the year 2020 since the official WebXR spec was finally shipped on the Chrome Browser on December 10, 2019. The Polys WebXR Awards was a live show streamed on Twitch and with “Meta Multiverse” watch parties within Mozilla Hubs, AltSpaceVR, Engage, and Tivoli Cloud. They had an hour-long pre-awards show featuring pre-recorded, red carpet interviews, and they awarded 11 awards across a number of different categories.

I brought together Irwin, Moshasha, and Smithson three days after the show in order to unpack their journey in producing the event, as well as some of their highlights and takeaways in celebrating the experiences and developers who are helping to make the immersive web possible. There is not a video archive available for the show as they wanted to keep it ephemeral and in the moment, but you can see all of the nomminees on their WebXR Awards website or links to all of the nominees and winner can also be found in my Twitter thread coverage of the WebXR awards. They are also planning on posting more clips over the next year on their WebXR Awards YouTube Channel considering they captured a lot of historically interesting interviews and conversations.

Here’s a full list of the Polys WebXR Awards winners:


Here’s my Twitter thread from the event listing all of the winners and nominees:

UPDATE (March 11) Ricardo clarifies on Twitter that he as indeed won a few awards prior to his WebXR Lifetime Achievement Award.

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye and welcome to the Voices of the Hour podcast. So on Saturday, February 20th, 2021 was the inaugural WebXR Awards. So Ben Irwin, in collaboration with Sofia Mosasa and Julia Smithson, came together and produced this WebXR Awards show, which had like 11 different categories. The specification for WebXR was actually shipped on So, I think we're going to see a lot more interest in WebXR as a specification. But, at least right now, we have a number of different frameworks and experiences and developers. And Ben Irwin was saying that, hey, there's a lot of stuff that's happening in WebXR, but there's not a lot of stuff that's happening in WebXR as a specification. So, I think we're going to see a lot more interest in WebXR as a specification. a lot So I wanted to just kind of get a little bit more of the back story of how this came about. And then at the end, we'll have a little bit more thoughts about the whole show and some of the different other things that I thought was interesting in terms of just highlighting different experiences and developers that are working on the WebXR space. I guess just as a final thought before we dive in, I do think that WebXR is one of the more exciting potentials of VR because there are no walled gardens. You can give someone a link, you can jump straight into a Mozilla Hubs experience, which Mozilla Hubs end up winning one of. of the best multi-user experience of the year. So yeah, just what type of stuff they're going to be able to do. There's a lot of stuff around data visualization with flow immersive. They had a number of different things nominated and yeah, just generally I'm excited to dive in and to see a little bit more of where WebXR goes in the future. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Ben, Sophia, and Julie happened on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021. So with that, let's go ahead and. Dive right in.

[00:02:30.897] Ben Irwin: Hi, I'm Ben Erwin, and I created the Polys WebXR Awards because in 2020, from the very beginning of the year, when I first tried Hello WebXR inside of the Quest browser, I was just blown away by the level that it took immersive web experiences to where previously web VR had sort of low polygon primitives and there wasn't really much to it. This was a fully built out multi-level experience that was interactive and it was well lit and had shaders and was very sophisticated. And that to me said, OK, well, this is because I had waited for years for that to come about. And that set me down the road of watching everything that came out in WebXR over the course of the year. And by October, this idea for the award show came up. And as I shared it with Julie and Sophia, who were among the first people that I told about it, the reaction was, yes, absolutely, we should do this. And so it began.

[00:03:36.680] Sophia Moshasha: My name is Sophia Moshasha, and I work with both Ben and Julie outside of the poly, so it was an honor to be able to come together to collaborate with them on this project. And I do a lot of strategizing around emerging technologies. And I'm really passionate about creating ubiquitous access to the technology, just to grow the industry, grow the use of the technology. So WebXR is an obvious route for that. So I'm excited to see the growth of the medium.

[00:04:11.073] Julie Smithson: And I'm Julie Smithson and co-founder of Metaverse, as well as XR Collaboration and XR Women with Sophia. Together, our communities just come together collaborating and it just made sense that we continue to work together and honor all of the people who have got us where we are today. So my passion in my Metaverse company, you know, we're working with 3D on web, so it was a natural fit of conversation of, the evolution of where I'm taking my product and our company and being able to be a part of the story of WebXR was really exciting. And what an experience to put on the Polly's, that's for sure. It was truly something I'm still kind of decompressing in my head how it all happened, because it was very complex. And we did it, we pulled through. But the story behind the scenes is one that is down in history now of being able to produce something like Ben had this vision for. So yeah, it was a great celebration all around.

[00:05:17.639] Kent Bye: Right. Yeah. Maybe you could each give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into VR, but also talk a bit about most folks when they're making VR experiences, they're using either like Unity or Unreal Engine and WebXR has just had its specification that's been finalized within the last year and a half or so, and still doesn't have universal support in all the browsers. But maybe you could just each give a little bit more context as your background and your journey into VR, and then specifically where you took this turn into WebXR.

[00:05:46.687] Julie Smithson: Well, sorry, you go ahead. Sure, I can continue on just carrying on with the conversation of Metaverse being a 3D web engine, game engine. My history, I've been doing this for about five years, started off building 360 photo booths and and AR portals and 3D assets for retail clients. So really trying to understand everything about the entire ecosystem. And it was a great thing. Our company, we actually merged just recently with LiveRoads. Now having our product, the Metaverse game engine, being able to be hosted on the web and produce experiences that is ubiquitous right across the platform circuit and lowering that barrier of entry for creators to be able to design in 3D. So my passion is really about introducing the concepts of three-dimensional learning. And as I said today, in one of my panels, I was on a retail panel talking about how we're introducing this Z-axis into our lives. So that's kind of my new thing, adding that spatial design purpose and then using WebXR to be able to deploy this technology into the way that we live and work and play. and that immediate access for all of us to be able to interact without having applications as barriers and things like that. So yeah, that's a little bit about my background.

[00:07:13.060] Sophia Moshasha: So for me, I started out in government contracting for a defense consultancy in Washington, D.C. And when I landed at a company called Brightline, I thought they were doing cybersecurity and IT. I was like, oh, they're a technology company in D.C., they must be doing something. Little did I know they did a lot more and a lot cooler stuff than that. And I became immediately immersed. I became super passionate about the industry, about the technology, and especially as I'm a marketer and the ability to be able to connect with people and be able to show them contextual different perspectives. And then witness that aha moment when we're putting people in headsets for the first time. and how a light bulb just goes off in their head on how it can relate to their profession and their industry. It makes me super excited. So I would say fast forward to now with what WebXR can deliver. I mean, first and foremost, given the circumstances that we're in right now, it's an easy way to introduce people to XR and immersive mediums without a headset or without expensive headsets. You could put your phone in a number of different inexpensive hardware platforms. So that in itself is super exciting to me as someone who is consistently introducing people to immersive mediums, given the fact that we can't meet in person. And then it just gives entities, people, companies, a different option of deploying content. no longer do you have to deploy content on these expensive hardware mediums. So it's lowering barriers, like Julie said, for access for the consumer world, but it's also lowering barriers for investments in the technology as well. So that's what makes me excited to be able to offer these different options to clients to explore these mediums.

[00:09:13.779] Ben Irwin: I come to XR via the web, so that's why I'm so passionate about WebXR. But the way I got here was around the mid-2010s. I had a great heyday in doing interactive data-driven apps for native advertising agencies like the New York Times and This was around the time that the wicks and the square spaces of the world started to sort of take over the easy CMS. And so people didn't want to pay for high-end bespoke experiences anymore. And I saw that writing on the wall very clearly. But at the same time, I went to the 2016 Lisbon Web Summit, which was a massive, massive gathering that happens every year. It originated in Ireland, but it moved to Portugal. And I happened upon an exhibit that was a Portuguese VR shop. And in about five minutes, I had a demo of a Vive, a Rift, a Samsung Gear VR, and a HoloLens. really made me say, okay, this is here, this is now. And I loved the content that was displayed on the Vive the most, but I loved the hardware of the Rift the most. So I went back to the hotel room, I ordered myself a Rift, little did I know I had to also buy an $800 video card when I got back. But at any rate, that sort of set me down the road of, okay, so I have a Rift now, but what happened was, first of all, there wasn't really a web browser for the Rift yet. And then when it was coming, it was still very primitive. WebVR was very primitive. And so I had to wait. And my Rift wound up sort of becoming a cool thing that I would impress my friends with and come over and show them how awesome VR was. But there wasn't a lot of new things coming out. But when the Quest happened and the Quest browser happened, and then the WebXR spec happened, that was what really set things in motion. But starting in early 2019, before I even had a Quest, I'm very interested in what happens beyond HMDs when we have autostereoscopic displays and that 3D content is something that you don't necessarily need a headset for, that it'll be on a TV, it'll be in contact lenses, it'll be in all sorts of different things. The revolution of 3D content is sort of a separate thing than the hardware revolution that's going on with it. My projection was to see the importance of virtual production, to see volumetric video as new mediums to explore, But when WebXR happened and I understood it as 25 years as the webmaster, how easy it was for people to explore it, where I had earlier on in my career sort of played things close to the vest and I wasn't all about open source. Now I'm all about evangelizing it. And I felt like I hadn't given enough back to the open source community over the years. And I feel that this is in some way I can help elevate all of these developers who are doing such great work, they're doing such technical work, such creative work, they're building such an incredible foundation around this technology, and they're making it possible for other people to do. And we celebrate athletes and we celebrate musicians and actors. And I think it's time we celebrated developers. And I think that what happened this last weekend was a feeling in the community that, yeah, this is our time. And the celebration of that had the energy that we were going for. So I'm really happy to put the developers out there so other developers can see it and say, yes, this is what I want to do. This is what I want to make and hopefully accelerate the whole adoption of WebXR. And next year, I have a lot more experiences to choose from.

[00:13:14.425] Kent Bye: Yeah. So this was the inaugural award show that happened this past weekend. And, um, I'm curious to hear a little bit more of that origin story and how it went from that original idea and then to doing all this virtual production and then this whole live show that just happened. And so maybe take me back to this turning point when you realized that you actually really wanted to do this, and then you had this vision of what you wanted to make and what was the story and the pitch that you were making.

[00:13:40.987] Ben Irwin: Well, it was right around my birthday, which is at the end of October. And I had seen a lot of things happening in the WebXR community. And at some sort of a visceral level, it was almost making me jealous that there were these things going on that I wanted to be in on, but it wasn't like real jealousy. It was more motivation. I was like, so what can I bring to this? And I'm just so impressed, just taken aback by the quality and the ingenuity of these. So I thought, you know, these people need an award. And there's so many different types of experiences that there are to recognize. So I like to involve myself in a creative project around my birthday. So I built my first A-Frame site, and I built the WebXR award site that you still see there today. And I went to my friend Linda. And I asked her to make a trophy. And after a couple of iterations, the trophy that is now the Polly, which had its name all along, was there. And when the Polly was created, that was at the point where Julie saw the original iteration. Once that trophy existed, I shared it with a few more friends. I brought Sophia into, we had an Oculus call and we went into the website and I said, I'd already talked to Julie about hosting the show. I asked Sophia if she wanted to do the virtual red carpet, and she said, yes, absolutely. And so that was sort of how we got involved together. And I got my friend Dave King to be the producer. And about a month and a half later, when we dropped the first trailer, the response to it on Twitter was so epic that it was like, OK, that was our putting the toe in the water to see whether this idea actually worked or not. And it was that point that we fully committed to do it. And then we took it from there. So I'll let Julie and Sophia tell what unfolded after that.

[00:15:30.104] Julie Smithson: I guess from my perspective, he asked me November, late November, like, I don't know, it feels like it was rushed at the beginning. And then all of a sudden, we thought we had lots of time. And then all of a sudden, the week started to come. And it was like, oh, yeah, we need to start doing recordings. And it started to roll together. And Ben put together, you know, a production team on his end. And the scripts that we had to read and Sophia, she was doing all of the research and stuff behind all of the people that she had to create conversations around on the red carpet. And yeah, and then it was just like almost daily in the last four weeks, I think we were touching base and you know, we still need to do this script. Have we contacted this person? Because all of a sudden we had all these people that were involved, presenters, nominees and things like that. So yeah, it was really interesting how this came together very quickly. As you can tell, like it was less than four months from idea, concept, building out the website, having the nominees, the submissions, the judging them and pulling everything together was really quite phenomenal. It's a good word in my head.

[00:16:38.133] Sophia Moshasha: I mean, the fact that so many people wanted to be involved is incredible. It's just a testament to the success of the event, but it's a testament to how hungry people were for recognition or to be a part of this grassroots effort to celebrate this medium. I mean, how many people, Ben, did we have on the production team at the end of the day?

[00:17:00.030] Ben Irwin: Well, I didn't count, but yesterday I actually made a list of the credits. I made the master thank you list and looked up all their Twitter handles and everything. And it was a pretty significant amount when you count all of the people in the multiverse worlds that were really not directly involved with us. We were sort of a small inner team, but the whole meta multiverse concept was also part of it from early on. So the idea of presenting it in VR platforms and having watch parties there, when people started getting on board with that, such as Steve Lewis's people and the Engage, he actually brought three groups, Waking Dream XR, Birdcastle XR, and the Dave School, all had Engage experiences for watch parties for the Pollys, each of them with their own different atmosphere. And so, yeah, it was a good number of folks.

[00:17:50.574] Sophia Moshasha: Yeah, no, a lot of people on the production side, a lot of people like Julie said, on the interviews and the presenters and the nominees and the winners that showed up. I mean, it was a lot of people and just seeing the comments that people and the conversations that people are having in world and afterwards. And then on social media, I mean, you could feel the joy, the pure joy that people had in partaking in this and being able to be both a part of the show and an attendee of the show and congratulating each other and being able to just showcase the awesome work that's going on. I honestly was not aware of the depth of experiences that are actually created on WebXR. I knew it was a developing medium. I knew that there were assets and such that could be viewed. in WebXR, but really, I mean, Ben, when you took me into the WebXR Awards website, I was in awe. And I honestly learned a lot through this process, both about the production and what went on in production and being able to stream into all of these different social VR platforms and take feedback out of them and stream it back into the production. as well as just everything that's going on in the industry and all the important contributions that have been made.

[00:19:14.426] Julie Smithson: I think that was one of the coolest things of us just all experiencing the meta feeling. Right up until, I think it was the first week of February, we still didn't quite know how things were gonna go, like in my head anyways, I really wasn't sure, like how is it gonna work? And what parts are we gonna say? And what is that audio feed gonna be like? And who's gonna tell me when to speak? And those were all questions that normally you have answered in a studio when you've got somebody standing right there. So it was a big. Yeah, exactly. So kudos to the production team because being able to have comms in our ear through Discord and then our video feeds through another way and then it being pushed out into YouTube and then pushed out into the world. you know, and then being able to go into a world and see yourself in the world, you know, that was just mind blowing. And I think it's just now the possibilities are endless. There's so many possibilities out of WebXR that we can take forward from here. And a lot of lessons learned, of course.

[00:20:21.400] Kent Bye: Yeah. And Ben, maybe you could give a bit more background context to how you decided what categories are going to be for the WebXR awards for the inaugural edition, but also how you went about deciding who the winner was going to be once you figured out the nominees for each of the categories.

[00:20:39.029] Ben Irwin: Well, when it came to selecting the nominees, that was one of the hardest parts because There were a lot of different experiences, but I had a very narrow criteria for it because, you know, XR is a pretty broad landscape and there are a lot of different types of experiences on a lot of different devices. And of course, one of the magical things about WebXR is that it runs on desktop and tablet and mobile and headsets, of course. But what really transcends is the stereoscopic 6DOF experiences. So the first criteria was that it had to be a stereoscopic 6DOF experience. So that filtered out a lot from there. The second part was to define the categories. One thing that I later got an appreciation for was I'm very glad that I stopped at 11 because I didn't really understand the exponential amount of work that adding each category took. So getting those done was quite a bit. So I'm glad that we narrowed it down to six experience categories, three technical categories, and two honors. And the voting was a jury. So I invited a lot of people who had enough XR expertise, not necessarily WebXR folks, but people needed to have a quest to be able to go in. And I set up an online ballot that voted. And I honestly don't even know who voted for what. I just literally ran an SQL query and it dumped out the winners and I was done. And I ran a second one to get the second place prize, which we didn't have a second place, but I know who those people were. But all award shows are a black box. So that's really the right way to do it, because it's very hard. I think that the hardest part for me is, you know, seeing great experiences that were nominated three times and didn't win in any of the categories. Like, it's wonderful to have the joy of here, you know, we're awarding somebody, but it's an award show and people understand that there is only one winner per category. But I think that being the nominee in each category was really a great thing for everybody because I wanted them to be recognized just as much, you know, it didn't really matter for me who the winner was. It was that all four to five or six different nominations were there to be recognized.

[00:23:02.297] Julie Smithson: And I think this would be a good spot to say that next year, we really hope there's more female developers that can be recognized in the nominees, because that was very difficult process for Ben to look for, for, for, you know, developments that were designed by women and Ada Rose Cannon was the only one. So hopefully this show inspires other developers so that we can nominate them next year into the categories.

[00:23:28.465] Ben Irwin: Yes, and the same goes for people of color. One of the things that we really worked hard to try to discover in there was diversity. It actually turned out that some of the best diversity in any of the nominations turned out to be a winner was Hubs, the Hubs crew. But that's another aspect of it is we want as much representation and inclusion as possible in the polys for next year. So that's another dimension of hoping that this inspires a lot of folks is we want to, we want a lot of variety. And we also hope to expand the categories because there are a lot of things such as platform of the year, augmented reality experiences, because hopefully this year we'll have bonafide fully baked web AR through the web our spec experiences delivered. And so that's going to be really exciting as well as volumetric experiences and so forth. XR is such a broad category, but I think that we really tapped into something by getting the community nerve in WebXR.

[00:24:34.589] Kent Bye: Yeah, another one I would say is maybe events, because I know there's been like the para-creative, but there's a number of different art shows that happened and other events that have been happening within WebXR. So these specific event spaces, I think, are also kind of interesting to think about, like just creating a world that is hosting different events.

[00:24:53.106] Ben Irwin: Five hours, for example, I want to go to go to see five hours this week. I was too caught up last week. It started the day before our show. So they actually they had sent me a nomination for themselves, but it didn't quite fit into any of the categories that we had this time. But that's a good idea is to have an event category.

[00:25:11.596] Kent Bye: Yeah, cause 5Rs, they did a couple events and there's been other art shows and stuff that have been happening and maybe these one-off events that I think are worth also just seeing what kind of innovations that are happening in terms of that environmental design and, you know, really just creating these social spaces. So yeah, I think it's still obviously very early days. I think Ada Rose Cannon said in her script that she was saying that like, you know, in the future we'll look back and say, this is the low polys. Cause you know, I do think it's, it's still at the very beginning. So I think we'll, we'll look back at these and we'll be reminded as like the same type of graphics we see at like a geo cities on the web or like on the Atari video games. And so, yeah, it's kind of funny to potentially look back at some of this in the future, but yeah, I think there's a number of different people that are also kind of commenting about how. It is kind of weird for people who are involved in this stuff where they're not necessarily like driven by these awards. They're just doing it because they want to be. making stuff, participating, and really cooperating and collaborating. And so there is this weird dynamic when you start to put a competitive lens on this, then it starts to say like who gets recognized and who doesn't. But I do think there's a value of taking a moment to really recognize the work that the community is saying there. This is something that we're gonna really recognize as really pushing the medium forward. And it's a good opportunity for people like myself, just even to kind of go back and say, oh, well, I missed this, missed this. there's a lot of people that maybe miss some of the different innovations and an opportunity to kind of track that over the years, because I imagine this is going to continue in the future, but have this way to archive the work and the progress and the evolution of the medium itself. And to also, like you were saying, to provide people an inspiration to say, Hey, you know, like, I can do better than that. Or, you know, like just to be like, I want to make something, but to make it in the spirit of having it at the quality enough to be able to be submitted to something like the WebEx R awards. So yeah, maybe we could talk about like what you would see as the most exalted outcome for something like this and what that could do in terms of either getting the word out or inspiring the community to be able to start to dive in and start making more experiences like you were featuring here at the WebEx R awards.

[00:27:20.257] Julie Smithson: I was going to say, Sophia, you should share the story about Ricardo Cabello, because he was somebody who was trophy-less or award-less, he called himself. But that was an interesting story the other day, that he had never, ever received an award before.

[00:27:35.021] Sophia Moshasha: I just, from my experience with this, everybody is, like you said, Kent, is just so humbled. And they're truly doing it for the spirit of creating and pushing the limits. probably not even expecting anybody to really see it. It's a lot of it's just for fun. I don't even think that some of the people know that true impact that they're making. And Ricardo has just been amazing and has done amazing things for the industry. And it's about time that he's publicly celebrated and it gives his community that he's built a chance to both see him in person and celebrate him. And the community is already tight and very supportive and uplifting of each other. And this was just another way to do that and shine light on that. And like you said, Kent, be able to inspire people to push themselves to expand for for next year to be able to submit to something like this. So it was an awesome experience. And things like this just makes me love the community even more. And I think We were talking earlier, Ben and Julie, about if a Facebook or Google or another big company, Big Ten company, put on an award show like this, it wouldn't quite be the same as this community-led grassroots effort that was done by just enthusiasts. And I don't think people would have appreciated it as much as they did for this show.

[00:29:05.339] Ben Irwin: Well, I think you bring up an interesting question by putting a competitive lens on it. When it comes to artistic integrity, like if you take any of the other major awards, take music, take Broadway shows, take movies, these major awards all begin with people who have artistic integrity. And when they really apply themselves to their artistic integrity, then that sort of organically gets elevated sometimes. I mean, you know, sometimes it's fixed, but in general, the things that become best whatever, or in our case, of the year, it's designed to recognize that organic, genuine talent to it. Coming at this from a developer's perspective, and me just wanting to recognize other developers, me wanting to see other developers elevated, people like Mr. Doob, people like Diego Marcos, who have made such massive contributions. I mean, it's, you know, I really believe that you never really get to see the impact that you make in this life. And, you know, I don't know to what extent there's some universal scorecard, but when you have somebody who makes something that people use to make things that other people use to make things, and it just puts this ripple effect out into the universe, it's a very powerful thing. And so, My heart is full having seen a really kind and humble person like Ricardo be recognized by a community that absolutely adores him, like the stats of the people that have used 3JS, that have been influenced by it, that have built amazing things with it. Many of them don't even know what his face looks like, what his voice sounds like, what he thinks. what his origin story is. And so to be able to share those stories and meet these people has just been really the privilege of a lifetime. And I got to I also have to say that doing this with Julie and Sophia has been part of what made that privilege really work. I mean, it was just there was just something really special about what we shared when we were engaging in these zoom calls, recording these interviews that wound up in the remix there. So want to do more.

[00:31:21.044] Kent Bye: Hmm. Yeah, just a little follow on, on three GS and Mr. Dube, Ricardo. So I have a background in web development and how I got into VR was like, I had this idea of this app I wanted to make. I'd already created something and created it in JavaScript. I didn't want to have to like rewrite it. I wanted to make like a Linux and windows and Mac version. And so I was like. I want to write it once and not have to worry about how to make it compatible across all the different platforms. And then I realized after a meditation retreat that VR was a thing. And then the way I came across it was actually on the 3GS website, just investigating, doing spatialized visualizations. And I saw this little Oculus lens that was like, oh, I was like, what's that? And then by the time I came to the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference, I did an interview with Vlad Vesovich, who was one of the founders of WebGL. to be able to take these immersive graphics and be able to actually paint them on a canvas and the 3GS being a project to be able to actually make that easy to be able to do through JavaScript. And, you know, back in April of 2020, I remember seeing a tweet from Mr. Dube saying, oh, it's been 10 years since I've been working on this, you know, and still a lot to do. And he's, he posted a little tweet, says, yeah, there's still a lot to do with the 3GS, but it was like a whole decade. So yeah, just the fact that he had been working on that on a decade and it actually became a part of my own origin point for how I heard about and got into VR was through the 3GS and learning about it. And so yeah, just to recognize that, that project of 3GS of how foundational that's been to so much, almost, you know, the entirety of the WebVR and WebXR was made possible because of something like both WebGL and the 3GS. And then eventually, you know, Babylon JS and other things as well that come on and try to have these underlying frameworks. To me, I think that's probably one of the more powerful things is to recognize not only these frameworks that are out there, Babylon JS, A-Frame, 3JS, and the other one that was the winner. What was the name of it? I actually hadn't even heard of it. It was like these new frameworks that kind of like emerging.

[00:33:17.807] Ben Irwin: Yeah, Jason Johnston's data visualization thing. And it was a very interesting origin story for him as well. But credit where credit is due, Jason says right up front that he's doing this for the Three.js community and that he feels that his framework is built on top of that. And so he's big proponent of 3JS because it made his unique flavor of data visualization possible and it's really mind-blowing when you go into the Troika experiences and Troika was actually built as a data visualization for network security, but the other types of data visualization that it made possible, including a holographic look, which I hadn't really seen anywhere else, like a holographic looking globe, really, really intense thing. So I'm really happy that he won. He thought it was a little ridiculous that he won over A-Frame and Babylon, but that's what the data said. That's who people voted for, for Troika. So

[00:34:22.950] Sophia Moshasha: But see, that, you know, so Kent, you didn't even know about Troika before the show. So it's things like that that are bringing to light these new capabilities and new frameworks. Now, you know, the developers and whomever else, the creators that attended and that will watch this show, the recording of the show after are now introduced to all these new capabilities. And I look forward to seeing what's going to be built on top of these frameworks throughout the year for next year's awards. And hopefully this inspired people to use these new capabilities that they're finding out about through the show.

[00:34:57.269] Julie Smithson: I think it's elevated the community to a huge front because the awards created also the education for everybody and the knowledge base. And we still have a lot of work to do because when we went out and we were looking for nominees, people didn't quite understand what WebXR was or how it was built. And I think these awards also provide that knowledge base of understanding the difference between something that's built on an app and something that's built on the web. And, you know, our scripts, which were beautifully written by Ben to help people understand the impact of all of these different nominations, I think was the big, huge part of, you know, being able to translate that information through the show.

[00:35:42.960] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I was glad to see Jason Marsh in the Flow Immersive be recognized and to win an award for the data visualizations that he's been able to do and to actually have these immersive experiences that you can both see within VR, but also 2D. And I'd say probably a meta comment that I think is worth pointing out here is that there's a lot of people doing 3GS projects that don't necessarily have a web component. And so I know there's other emerging frameworks like React 3 Fiber is a good example where there's new ways of accessing 3GS, but through the React framework, I know there's a number of different experiences that were at Sundance this year, but that they were using 3GS as a sort of foundational technology, but there wasn't like an immersive WebXR. They didn't implement the WebXR spec. And so they were calling it WebXR, but it was actually technically just using 3GS and these open web technologies. But there's certainly a lot of other stuff that's happening with 3GS. I mean, Ricardo and Mr. Dube had tweeted even this past week that when the Perseverance was landing on Mars, that NASA was using his 3GS library to be able to do the visualization of this rover landing on Mars. And so he's just sitting there His code is a part of this data visualization from NASA. So you have something like the 3GS library that's out there, but not everything is going to be hooked into the WebXR. So it seems like there is a bit of a WebXR awards is focusing on like using all these foundational technologies, but being able to actually immerse yourself into the XR portion of it.

[00:37:12.355] Ben Irwin: Well, I think you bring up a good point, especially with mentioning React 3 Fiber. Jason actually mentioned that in his interview as one of his favorite emerging platforms within that. But when it comes to WebXR, one of the reasons that we focused on WebXR as the standard and we showcased the view of it from the W3C co-chairs. Because as somebody who was a long-suffering webmaster who was really tired of trying to make things work in IE6, clients always wanted the lowest common denominator of browser to work. And that was always the thankless unpaid part of it. So it was quite shocking and transformative when Steve Jobs assassinated Flash. But when that happened, it did for the good of adopting a standard. And that made the decade that followed very different than the decade that preceded it in terms of when those standards came together and all of the vendors played nice with each other to be able to make browsers that there wasn't as much of a discrepancy between experiences using the same code and having to write less workarounds. That's what I really want to see happen with the immersive web. And the fact that they put so much great engineering into making the WebXR standard, this standard is what gets used. And the good news this week, it finally dropped that Apple let us see behind the kimono that in fact, WebXR is in development and it will be built into WebKit. And this was a signal that so many have been waiting for to happen because until now, Microsoft and Google and Facebook have all rallied around the WebXR standard, but Apple has been mum about it until now. Now that Apple is on board with WebXR and developers can trust that they can build immersive experiences and it will run on Safari, that is going to be extremely important when there is Safari for Apple Glass.

[00:39:25.719] Kent Bye: Yeah, I just wanted to add a little caveat in there, which is that Apple has not officially said anything yet. And what Diego Marcus was saying on Twitter was that WebKit is the engine that's behind Apple's Safari browser. However, as an example, WebGL landed in WebKit way before it ever got promoted into the official product of Apple Safari. So a lot of these contributions that are happening for implementing the WebXR spec into WebKit are coming from third-party developers. And it is on the roadmap on webkit.org, but Apple hasn't at this point come out and committed to any sort of timeline or that once it does land that it'll get promoted or how long or delay because Diego Marcos said that WebGL landed in WebKit, but it was a still a little bit while after that, before it got actually officially released within Safari. So that's just a caveat that it is a good sign, but it's not, it's not like they're coming out and saying, we're going to ship this by the end of the year or something.

[00:40:24.056] Ben Irwin: It's never concrete until it's concrete. But going back to Steve Jobs' reasoning, his letter of why iOS would never support Flash is because he wanted to adopt open standards. And that watershed moment is what led to MP4 becoming the video standard. to jQuery, which was really at the time the de facto animation library that was used. But JavaScript took over where Flash animation and audio support natively within HTML. Those things made so much possible over the last decade. So I'm hopeful that that same ethic, that Jobs' reasoning will apply to Apple's decision to support WebXR as a standard.

[00:41:07.902] Kent Bye: Yeah. And as we start to tie up this conversation, I want to ask a series of questions, particularly focusing on the virtual production that you were able to achieve in this, where a lot of the visuals that we saw during the actual live show of the WebXR Awards, you said were actually produced within WebXR itself. So maybe you could just talk about how you were creating a lot of these 3D graphics and images and visuals and producing the whole show, drawing from actually doing a lot of virtual production from within WebXR itself.

[00:41:38.088] Ben Irwin: Well, the thing that stunned me was the beauty of lighting objects inside of A-Frame. And when I took Sophia into the site for the first time, one of her first comments was, it's beautiful. And it wasn't just because we had a nice space background or that the poly was shiny. It was the light that was coming on it. And when you moved, your perspective on that light move. So it felt real. It was another sort of level of immersive. And so when you combine that with the ability to activate 1080p recording through SideQuest quite easily, just by pushing a button, if you jack in your Quest and you can turn off foveated rendering and you can turn on 1080p, I can record HD video just by moving around. So I enabled flight And I was just able to look in a direction and fly in that direction. And so what I started doing, I actually spent a whole day rehearsing a 75 second one take for the original trailer that wound up launching this whole thing. Because I was able to fly up underneath the space station, through the trophy, up around, and then through the Julian Sophia and the date of it, and then drop the trophy into the abyss. And it was just so much fun to do that, but it looked really cool. So that sort of opened my eyes to that WebXR is more than just something where you can build a website. It's a creative medium that you can actually shoot video in, which I hope to see other crazy things that people come up with using that recipe.

[00:43:21.026] Kent Bye: Yeah. I'm curious to hear any more context and backstory from both you, Sophia and Julie, as you were, you know, doing interviews and other things and prepping for this, you know, you had an opportunity to actually engage and talk with quite a wide range of different developers from across the industry. So yeah, just curious to hear a little bit more about your process of being involved in this production.

[00:43:42.278] Julie Smithson: Yeah, sure. From my perspective, you know, I was the host and had some opening keynote scripts to read through and being involved with the presenters themselves and talking about all the nominees that they were going to be presenting. We had some great conversations. I know Kavya Perlman was one of them. We talked for a good half an hour before we even started to record her session. And it was all on cybersecurity and just some of the actions that we needed to take in the ecosystem. And there was some really good conversations that we had. you know, meeting all these new people, a lot of them I hadn't met some of these people before. And I think even, I know one of them I had met in a virtual world once before, but this was the first time I was seeing them on Zoom. So again, my heart was full and just being able to learn about what everybody was doing and how they were a part of the ecosystem. And, you know, as far as the production goes, it was a few weeks of wearing the same outfit and the hair the same way so that we would look exactly how we would be on the day of. So that was definitely a little bit of a, just a personal challenge of, you know, my kids were like, okay, mom, enough of the outfit. You know, we've seen that outfit now for two months now. And yeah, it was full involvement right from the start. And I know Sophia, you know, she worked her heart out too with all the nominees for the red carpet. So yeah.

[00:45:06.592] Sophia Moshasha: It was a lot of fun. And I have to say that trailer, Ben was badass. It was not easy to take in one take. And not only did he film it in immersive by flying around, but he was actually using the interactivity as well to film. He was like picking up the trophy and like smashing the other trophies with it. So it was really, really cool. I think it was really well done. And And I am looking forward to seeing how else production is done within immersive mediums like WebXR. But in terms of the production itself, let me just say, I am glad I wasn't part of the core production team behind the scenes, because that was an amazing job that Ben and everybody else pulled off and remained super calm during the whole thing, which made us super comfortable. So appreciate that. And for me, it was interesting because I was having more of these conversations and it wasn't as scripted. So I knew some of the people that were coming on, but a lot of them, I didn't, I didn't really know what they did. So that had to instigate a lot of research on my part. And being able to have these impromptu discussions back and forth with people was really interesting. And again, it was a great learning experience, not only on the event production side of things, but. of everything that's going on in the community around WebXR. So, you know, I'm glad for that sake of being involved in this award show. And it kind of got my eyes more into what was going on in the community. So I appreciate that. And I know that we had some really extensive interviews and talks and conversations for the red carpet interviews. And we only used short clips of each of those. And we have extensive conversations that have been recorded from each of those interviews. And I don't know, Ben, he said he may be planning on releasing some of that content later on throughout the year as we go on and prep for the next show. So I look forward to hopefully seeing those come out soon.

[00:47:11.908] Ben Irwin: The Kent Bye interview in particular was really good.

[00:47:14.909] Sophia Moshasha: Yeah, let's not forget that Kent was honored with Ombudsperson Award for this show. So thank you, Kent, for everything that you're doing for the community as well.

[00:47:26.090] Kent Bye: Oh yeah. Thank you. It was quite an honor to get that. I had never seen like an ombuds person award before, so it was like a delight and surprise to be able to get it. And Ben said that hopefully there'll be other people that are going to step up. And also, I mean, there's plenty of other journalists that have been doing lots of great work in the XR industry over the years as well. But in particular with WebXR, this is, for me, this has been a little bit of a pet project that I, it's kind of like the tortoise and the hare where all these other technologies are just blazing ahead. And it's taken a while for WebXR to really catch up to be in parity. And it's still not quite at the same level of parity, but I think that over time, we'll start to see other things like WebGPU and other technologies that will get to the point where it'll allow us to have an immersive experience that feels indistinguishable from whether or not it's on a web experience or whether it's from Unity or Unreal Engine. I mean, some experiences I've had in Mozilla hubs, it's easy to forget that, oh yeah, this is all being done in the web browser. And my mind is blown time and time again, how good a lot of the core technology has progressed to be able to facilitate that type of social interaction. And yeah, I guess the web still has a long ways to go. One of the other things that it makes me think of is the VR awards that happened in VRChat and how their award show was happening within an immersive experience where you go through these different worlds. And they were trying to be quest compatible, but also it was optimized to the point where it was difficult to have a lot of people in the same room at the same time. So I don't know if moving forward, you've thought about What this award show would look like if you went into actually presenting it within VR, there's obviously a lot of limitations in terms of how many people can be in the same instance or, you know, the VR awards had to take the whole approach of them doing it like a single person experience, which changes the shared experience element that you were going for and then doing it live, which is very ambitious in a lot of ways, which I was actually grateful to see the effort to try to do that because a lot of times if everything is completely pre-recorded and has this feeling of being a little stilted and it's not of the quality of the moment of what's emerging right now. So I liked the fact that it was like, as I was watching it, I was like, everybody was learning at the same moment who the winner was. And I kind of liked that as a conceit. And then when you start to move things into VR, then it just sort of changes things. So yeah, I don't know if you've thought about other ways, if you imagine a future where eventually the WebXR Awards would actually be happening within WebXR as a medium itself.

[00:49:54.807] Ben Irwin: Well, I mean, certainly we had a hubs instance. So technically there was a, this guy, Matt be cool, built an awesome experience where he could actually fling the trophies outside, you know, throw them up in the air. And that was really cool as well as he actually built out a wall of the nominees. So that technically was a WebEx our experience there, but the capacity that you can have within a particular instance of things. So alt space has front row and it scales and they finally made it easier for people hosting events to be able to use Front Row, Engage is working on something, and we had three different Engage watch parties. The whole meta multiverse concept that we went with, which was from the early on, the idea that we could take a live video stream to distribute it across different 2D video distribution channels, including pipe those channels, which included YouTube, Twitch and DLive. We didn't run with Facebook and LinkedIn, but we had the option to do that. And we then streamed it into the preferred platform of the things we'd love next year to see more metamultiverse worlds hosted. I have to give a huge shout out to Austin Kane, AKA Cause, and Christy Phenason, the world builders who built the absolutely magnificent world. I'd produced an event with them in December, and the person who had commissioned that world, Dan Deuce, gave us permission to do that. Layla Amirzadehgi also produced that event. We repurposed that world and turned it into the Polly's world. And it was just, with the spotlights and the searchlights, it really felt like So the fact that we were able to take that and then pipe it back into the show, that was the novel part of what we pulled off here. And we're still looking for somebody who claims that they've done that before with multiple worlds, but we actually did it. And we're really proud of that because it gave opportunities for folks to see it in different ways.

[00:52:03.870] Kent Bye: Yeah, you had worlds and alt space and engage and Tivoli cloud, as well as Mozilla hubs. And so, yeah, there was a lot of different watch parties that were happening. I was on the zoom call, so I was not able to be present to a lot of those different worlds at the same time. But yeah, just a really amazing world that had, uh, been created there. So, uh, cool to see what you call the meta multiverse with these live streams. And you said, you mentioned that VR chat wasn't a world because their, their video streaming has not.

[00:52:33.860] Ben Irwin: It was compatible and we actually had found a workaround, but there wasn't enough time to execute on it. I mean, there was this sort of hybrid thing that you needed to use Vimeo premium and we would have had to build a bespoke VR chat world, but maybe next year.

[00:52:51.185] Kent Bye: Yeah, yeah.

[00:52:53.008] Sophia Moshasha: I want to also say that I'm personally thankful that we did have a watch party in Hubs because this was my one opportunity to get my friends and family in XR. And I could have handed them the YouTube link to watch, but I made them go into and figure out how to attend in hubs because I've just been wanting to get them involved in what I'm involved in and to see what I've been doing for the past few years. So this was the opportunity that I got to do that with them. And if it wasn't for WebXR, they wouldn't have been able to experience it that way. So I'm super thankful that I was able to introduce my friends and family to this medium.

[00:53:36.655] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you each think is the ultimate potential of virtual reality and WebXR and what they might be able to enable?

[00:53:46.404] Julie Smithson: That's a big question. I think there's a huge potential for all of the industry, multiple different industries, education, learning, training, any visualizations. Right now, I feel like there's a big talk about retail. I just finished a talk today on retail, and then there's two more next week. So I feel like retail is taking that front and center position, how AR is unfolding and 3D on web. I think that, you know, it's the next communication medium and we're slowly transforming ourselves to communicate this way. And the Polly showed us all the different ways that we can communicate and have parties after celebrations in a virtual world and turn a Polly into a hot tub. You forgot about that, Ben, just so you know, we did that in alt space. You missed that with cause. Yes, he turned the poly into a hot tub for us. So, you know, anything can happen in the virtual space.

[00:54:42.014] Ben Irwin: It was my night when I saw Athena Deimos wearing one on her head, dancing around. That was cool.

[00:54:50.003] Julie Smithson: So yeah, ultimate potential everywhere.

[00:54:53.338] Sophia Moshasha: Yeah. And for me, and I've said it before, it's adoption, both on the consumer side, enterprise side, the developer side, you know, this is going to offer new opportunities for developers, JavaScript developers to get in and utilize this medium and, you know, just lower barriers to entry and adoption. And I think that is what WebXR will do for the industry as a whole.

[00:55:21.588] Ben Irwin: Well, the potential for VR is a bigger question, but to what Sophia just said right there, that lower the barriers to entry has several different layers to it. First of all, for JavaScript developers, for somebody who just wants to code and to be able to create an immersive experience. That is a low barrier to entry for a common person to do something extraordinary. But there's also the key lower barrier to entry is for somebody who's really serious about making something that they don't have to clear the barrier of app stores and they don't have to play by somebody else's rules. It's the open web. is still the same open web and if we treat it with the same respect that we have the web all along and the openness and the ability to access content through a URL, that gives a freedom where we don't have to worry about the governance of companies. There's a lot of valid concern that a company could just withdraw its support of something, like Flash died. I was a Flash developer for over 10 years, and I have a lot of dead Flash experiences in my portfolio. And so when you have a standard like the W3C's WebXR device API specification, and Ada Rose Cannon said it in one of her interviews, is that this is something that will run on devices that haven't been invented yet. That's a very key point, is that you can make something now and it's forward compatible. That is a really rich thing. But when it comes to the ultimate potential of VR and how the industry and the ecosystem is impacted by it, is that We're now crossing that chicken and egg threshold where there is content now, and there are devices now. It took many years for us to get here, and we're crossing this threshold. And what I want to see happen, and retail that we just mentioned is a part of it, but I would just say that marketing and advertising unleashing its money and telling its Fortune 500 clients and all of the companies that invest heavily in marketing and advertising every year that they need to create immersive experiences now, because the bandwagon is boarding. By the time Apple releases its devices, then there will already be a lot of forward progress in this. Right now, it's still somewhat of a green field of opportunity for innovation, for creativity. I'm really excited about the opportunities that it can create for original content. I also think that beyond that, Hollywood would be very smart to figure out when it's creating, it's constantly rebooting its franchises, it's constantly expanding into other markets like video games and so forth, the ability to create six DOF movies. People talk a lot about immersive storytelling, but if you take traditional storytelling, but you put a user in an immersive environment, in 10, 15 years, this is going to be pretty commonplace, but right now we've hardly even seen a taste of it. And so I'm really energized about that.

[00:58:45.957] Kent Bye: Hmm. Great. Is there, is there anything else that's left and said that you'd like to tell the broader immersive community?

[00:58:54.063] Sophia Moshasha: I would just say, look at the WebEx, our awards website, look at all the nominations that were there. All the, all the experiences are accessible through that website. Have fun with it. Be inspired. Please be involved next year in some capacity and reach out to us if you want to be involved. and want to learn more about WebXR and we'll help connect you to the right people.

[00:59:19.088] Julie Smithson: And also take that moment to recognize the developers, the quiet ones, the humble ones, the ones that won't stand up and say, hey, look what I've created. They just make sure it works. And I think the Polys really taught us to look behind the scenes and see who's there and be able to honor those people and credit them for their work, where their work has made a significant impact into our ecosystem.

[00:59:44.035] Ben Irwin: And I'll just add on top of that saying one of the reasons that we did it as a video experience and as a Zoom call and that we wanted the faces and the voices and the stories of the real people. We didn't want avatars. We wanted the genuine folks to be recognized as themselves. And so the last thing I just have to say is thank you to everybody. Thank you to Julie and Sophia. working with you was just absolutely fantastic to do that. To Steve Lewis and Dave King, our producers, who really did such an amazing job to pull it together. To Phil Oshansky, our broadcast engineer, who did it. To John Sadorovich, who produced the music for it. To Kaz and Christy, who just unbelievable work with the world there. To the presenters, all 11 of them, you know who you are. The nominees, every last one of you. And I am just so continuously inspired by all of their work. And I just can't wait for more. I'm not less hungry for this. I'm more hungry, having done the research and having met all of these people. So it's a really bright year ahead for this.

[01:00:56.643] Kent Bye: Awesome. Yeah, I think the WebXR Awards for me, it's this opportunity to step back and reflect on the work that's happening within this field and to really highlight it and provide people an opportunity to go check out what was already happening. You know, from my perspective of somebody who's covers the whole industry, there's still a long ways to go to have these WebXR experiences on the same level of parity and quality and the stuff that's happening at say like these immersive stories and experiences that are happening within Unreal Engine and Unity. But I think that's a good target that there is this aspiration of like trying to strive to get higher levels of fidelity. And you can start to pull in things you can't even start to do within these other platforms and use the affordances of the open web, stuff like the Flow Immersive, the data visualization and the Hello WebXR having like tweets that are coming in. And so, yeah, just having like the medium evolve to the point where it's actually integrating a lot of these other aspects of the open web that these other existing platforms just don't even start to think about. So for me, I'm really just excited to see how this area is starting to pull in all this different innovation and experimentation to kind of evolve what the medium of VR is meant to be with pulling in all these other missing pieces that we haven't quite seen yet. So for me, I get so excited about this. And yeah, Ben, I don't know if you wanted to say something

[01:02:15.884] Ben Irwin: The highlight for me, though, was Keith Chan, because as a professor of education, Julie and Sophie and I are very passionate about education for XR in general, but this is a guy who just had a vision who went to his board and said, can you pay me curriculum development hours to build an XR experience? And he brought in his quest and he showed it to them and they said, and you can share this with people? Sure. So they paid him his curriculum development hours to make that experience. And that is the type of story. I mean, it's great when we're celebrating these professional developers who have been doing it for years and have just been continuously elevating their game. But this is a guy who wasn't a developer. He's just a teacher of anthropology who wanted to show people the scale of monkeys. in a museum and he did it by himself. And he's just thrilled to have been part of this whole thing where he's on a show with Mr. Dube and Diego Marcos who made possible what he did. So it just is a full circle type of thing that just personally gave me a lot of joy. And I really loved that particular moment.

[01:03:28.887] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, thank you both Ben and Julie and Sophia for putting on this web XR awards and all the people that were involved in bringing this together. And, uh, yeah, I look forward to, uh, next year and, uh, to see people continue to push the whole medium forward. So thank you. Thank you.

[01:03:44.478] Julie Smithson: Thanks for having us.

[01:03:46.933] Kent Bye: So that was Ben Irwin. He's the creator of the Polly's WebXR Awards, as well as Sophie Massacha. She does a lot of strategizing on immersive technologies. And Julie Smithson, who is the co-founder of Metaverse and XR Collaboration and chair of XR Women. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, Well, I'm super glad that they have chosen to produce the WebXR Awards and to be able to highlight a lot of these different winners. And just quickly, I'm just going to go through some of the different winners and then we'll kind of dig into some of my other thoughts. So first was the best framework of the year, which was Jason Johnston's TroikaJS. Now, in this category, it's worth mentioning both A-Frame and BabylonJS are the ones that are probably actually have a lot of the momentum, lots of contributors, those little hubs based upon A-Frame. So for people just getting started, those are great ones to look at as well. I wasn't familiar with Jason Johnston's Troika.js, and so I'll have to dig into more. I think there's some really good data visualizations that he's doing there. And also I should point out that Mr. Dube, Ricardo Cabello of Three.js has been working on Three.js for 10 years. And so he was actually awarded a lifetime achievement award for the decades worth of experience. And a lot of what Three.js is, is making all of this possible. A lot of the other frameworks are based upon something like Three.js. So at the bottom level, Three.js, if you start to learn Three.js, you'll be in good shape because there's so many other frameworks that are using something like Three.js. But also the single user experience of the year, Flow Immersive, Jason Marsh and Michael DiBenego with the World Bank created a piece called Access to Electricity. Lots of really interesting data visualization pieces from Flow Immersive. I actually have a couple unpublished interviews with Jason Marsh talking about the data visualization tool that I have there. And it's a lot of really cool experiences. So if you go to the WebXR awards show, you'll be able to see an immersive VR experience. And then it's not. immediately intuitive how you can go from the WebXR and go into some of these other immersive experiences. But there's also a Twitter thread that I did that you can pull up on your browser and use that to be able to navigate as well if you want quick access to all these experiences, which is what I ended up doing. Innovation of the Year was the Entity Component System by Fernando Serraro. There is other interesting nominees here, which are WebXR Hand Tracking, Binomial Basis Universal for Texture, and the WC3's WebGPU. So just other technologies that I think would be important for the stack as we continue to move forward here, especially the WebGPU. I think having ways of using the PC GPU is going to be able to increase the fidelity of a lot of the WebXR experiences that are going to be made possible. What else? We have the WebXR Entertainment Experience of the Year is What You Don't Know by JonoFYI and MrDube. The best WebXR game experience was the Reaction, the TowerMax Fitness. The WebXR Developer of the Year, this was another interesting category, just having a lot of the different developers. It was Gabriel Baker of Vrbela and the FrameVR framework that they've been developing there. Verbella was a lot of the conference gathering software, and so a whole business that has been thriving here throughout the pandemic, and so they've been investing a lot of their engineering resources in creating a more accessible version through the FrameVR and the WebXR implementation there. But some of the other nominees there were the Troika.js developer, Jason Johnston, and the XE developer, Fernando Serrano. Jason Marsh of Flow Immersive that I mentioned. You know, lots of really great stuff that they've been working on there at Flow Immersive. Feiss of Embark Studios and Marlon360 of also Furbella HQ. Again, these developer of the year awards are always kind of tricky, is how do you isolate from all? hundreds of people that are working on these technologies. But yeah, just a slice highlighting some of the work that Gabriel Baker has been doing there with frame VR, the ombuds person of the word that was myself, I won that for a lot of work that I've been doing on the XR ethics and privacy in the industry. The education experience of the year was by Keith Shan is the and basically an education experience. So they wanted to create like a way to see the spatial differences of different gorillas and monkeys and photogrammetry scans as well, looking at different death rituals. So that was kind of an interesting addition to that as well. I mentioned before the Lifetime Achievement Award going to Ricardo Cabello from Mr. Doob for all of his work of 3GS. And the site of the year was the Hello WebXR by Mozilla Hubs, as well as the multi-user experience of the year, also by Mozilla Hubs. So the Hello WebXR experience actually is a really great demonstration of a really polished and interactive experience. It's a good baseline to start to check out what's been happening with WebXR. And I think that was actually a catalyst for Ben Irwin to be able to actually create these awards just to be able to honor these different types of work that folks in the WebXR industry have been doing. So yeah, I guess some other thoughts is just I'm happy that this existed. I guess one of the things that they decided to do was to have a live show and to produce it live, which because they were producing it live, they did have some issues with some of the audio. And I don't know if that was because they had some audio issues that they decided not to put out like a video. It was kind of like a live event. I think also the VR awards that happened. is also kind of like this ephemeral thing that was only around for a short, limited amount of time, and either you saw it or you didn't, and so then there's no video artifact. They're taking a similar approach here, where they're not having any sort of artifact of this awards show, other than the WebXR Awards website, which you can go to and immerse yourself and see the different nominees, although I think it would be good to kind of update that website just to show who the actual winners are, and also just make it a little bit more intuitively obvious when you're in VR how to get from the different experiences. navigating into other experiences is not quite implemented there. And that could be a part of the portal technologies and everything else that has been difficult to be in a WebVR experience and go from one site to the next, which there might be some solutions to that as we move forward. I know that the Hello WebXR experience, at least within a self-contained experience within their same website, made it possible for you to go from room to room, which I think is you know, something that was more difficult to even do within the WebXR spec. And so that's something that they've been working on. There's pending security concerns as to knowing that you're actually at the site and not people spoofing other sites. And so usually you would have the URL bar to be able to confirm that. But because that is included within these WebXR experiences, then there's new standards that still have to be developed for a lot of that type of stuff. One of the things, also, is I'm not always a fan of just doing a pure voting without looking at some of the different results because I do think there is a value of having a jury for some of the different categories and having a little bit of a deliberative process. From the different juries that I've been a part of, there is a certain amount of interesting deliberation that can happen and different decisions that would have been made by using that sort of conversational style rather than just a voting blind without looking at stuff. There are some things, like it was a little strange that Trica.js won over Babylon.js and A-Frame. I think from the work that A-Frame and Babylon.js have done for WebXR, I think they certainly deserved a WebXR award. And for them to not win one, I think it sort of points to, not to take anything away from Jason Johnson, but I think he himself was saying it's kind of weird to win over these two other major frameworks that are basically the foundation for a lot of what's happening in WebXR. So I think it's worth reconsidering that in terms of Is there a different jury process for how this decision-making process is taking place, rather than just a blind voting? You get some kind of weird phenomenon like that. Also, it is just weird to do this in general, in terms of putting people up against each other, and there's winners and people who aren't winning. But I think the point here is to try to shine a spotlight on the work, just like the Academy Awards and the Grammys and the Tonys. This is just a thing that happens, even in the Webby's and other ways that you're trying to honor different work that's happening within the web. But yeah, and it was a good opportunity, actually, to go and see, OK, what are the best in these different classes of experiences? And to give you an opportunity to go see what's happening and also to hopefully inspire people for next year. I'm hoping that we have a situation at the end of 2021 that's literally impossible for you to see all the different WebXR experiences. This is probably maybe the last year ever possible that you'll be able to see all of the WebXR experiences that were created within a single year. If there are one thing that I point people to, to be able to keep in touch with what's happening within the WebXR space, I would point you to Trevor Flowers, at Trevor F. Smith on Twitter. He does Immersive Web, WC3's Immersive Web Weekly Newsletter, which is a really amazing newsletter that he does weekly, just kind of highlighting the different news, really digging into this specific topic to cover what are the new things with the frameworks, what you should be knowing, where the different events are. And I guess that would be, if there's any one other event that I would say is not included here, would be the events. Because there were one-off special events that happened within WebXR this year, especially on the Mozilla Hubs platform, that I think deserve some category. I think it would require people to actually go check out these things, or at least have a link to be able to go check out some of the stuff. I know Space Popular did some events within architectural events, the really fancy architecture that they had built. But one of the highlights for me was the Paradowski Creatives Apart poster gallery. That was, I think, one of the first events that they had. But also, what Karen Malichi Sanchez is doing with both VRTO as well as the 5Rs Festival, basing everything on the WebXR to have a lot of the conference platforming and interaction and networking happening. within WebXR. But also RIM5, they've been doing a lot of interesting stuff within WebXR as well. So I think just in the future, the events categories is one area to look at in terms of some of the innovations that are happening. And yeah, just in general, there's a lot of amazing work that's happening in this space. probably one of the most exciting things for me is to see where the future of WebXR is going. In fact, over the last number of weeks, I've been collaborating with Fabian Beneteau at Utopia on Twitter. He is, I think, for me, one of the best WebXR prototypers. He's constantly just iterating and experimenting and I've just been meeting with him to be able to think about what would like converting the voices of VR website into having features of WebXR look like. I'm in the process of migrating my website and also just, you know, doing a reboot on it. So just thinking about what are the spatial dimensions of what's it look like to translate a content management system with like hundreds and hundreds of episodes and like It's something like the WebXR are going to provide new spatial affordances to be able to navigate this whole knowledge graph. And so I've been going through all of my back posts of my entries and tagging them. And yeah, just thinking about eating my own dog food in the sense of like, what's it look like to have a website that both is producing a podcast feed to be able to deliver this audio file that you're listening to and whatever your favorite podcasting listening device might be, but also to think about the discovery process of how WebXR could and use the spatial affordances to be able to navigate and discover new podcasts as well. So that's something that I've been exploring with Fabian and meeting with him weekly with his iterative explorations. And yeah, I'm excited to see where that goes. And overall, I think I'm just excited to see where the future of WebXR is going to go. It's something that's been on my radar since literally the very beginning of the Voices of VR podcast. And yeah, it's also, I think, going to be a whole other dimensions of pulling in the data visualization and the power of the open web, because Unity and Unreal Engine don't speak native web integration libraries and so there's just a lot of stuff that's out there that could start to be Pulled in that's why I think I'm excited to see something like react 3 fiber just start to have the react community start to pull different aspects in and there's New and new frameworks all the time now, and I think there was the news from Apple and again. I don't think There's no official announcements that's come out in terms of Apple is going to definitely be shipping WebXR support sometime. You know, they've been working in their core engine of WebKit. There's at least some third party developers that are working on it. And also there's been some coca code that has been submitted as well. So there's been some movements and indications that eventually WebXR spec is going to be shipped on something like Safari, which represents over half of the mobile web browsers that are out there. So that's a significant portion. So not having like the major web browser that is in use for a lot of people actually using and shipping the WebXR spec, I think has held back a lot of the development once that lands. And once there's confirmation that it is going to land, I think you're just seeing a lot more people jumping into the space of WebXR to be able to start to really explore the potentials of what you can do. So, all right. Well, that's all that I got for today. And if you'd like to help celebrate my winning of the Ombudsperson of the Year for the WebXR Awards, I'd like to support the work that I'm doing here. Part of the reason why I haven't been publishing a lot of podcasts recently is I've been kicking up the IEEE Global Initiative of the Ethics of Extended Reality. I've been working a lot to get kickstarted this group of 50 to 100 people that we are gathering together to be able to explore the ethical and moral dilemmas of XR and to produce this what will either be a white paper or report exploring what to do with XR ethics and that's still in the early phases and we'll see how that continues to progress and move forward. But yeah, if you'd like to support that work that I've been doing in the realm of XR ethics and privacy and just in general in covering the XR space, then please do consider becoming a member of the Patreon. I really do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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