Chrome to add support for VR / Oculus Rift

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A developer for Google’s Chrome browser has revealed that the company is working on adding VR headset support to its browser – following the lead taken by Mozilla’s Firefox last month.

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Google developer Brandon Jones has posted a detailed technical blog post outlining some of the technologies that are being added to the browser, and notes that the current implementation is “very close” to that of Firefox.

One thing is clear that we can’t expect to be flying through cyberspace (does anyone call it that anymore?) like someone out of Tron with your Oculus Rift just yet: web pages won’t automatically become 3D. What this sets up is a “WebVR” API that will enable web developers to build VR into their pages if they want to. Which means we could see implementations like this, which Jones asks us to imagine in his blog post:

“You are browsing Amazon and find a jacket/TV/bike/whatever that you’re interested in. If Amazon’s developers took advantage of the WebVR API they could add a button that says “View in VR” which let you view the item through a VR headset in 3D at 1:1 scale. In the case of a piece of clothing you could see it on a virtual mannequin, walk around it, lean in and examine the stitching, and so on as if it were actually sitting right in front of you. You could also imagine similar experiences with educational tools, data visualization, mapping, and so on. WebVR gives developers the tools needed to make it happen.”

At the moment development is in the very early stages – with issues such as latency between the headset and the computer. Similarly, development is also being done in a special forked version of Chrome – so you won’t be downloading VR support with the next normal Chrome update.

But this does at least offer a tantalising glimpse into the future.

James O’Malley