WebXR Device API

In brief, WebXR Device API stands for the API standard, aimed at helping web developers to create XR (extended reality) applications, i.e. which utilize VR, AR and other immersive tech.

What is WebXR Device API?

From the technical point of view, the WebXR Device API enables developers to create XR apps, immersive environments, 3D art objects, and much more for users’ access on a variety of XR devices (e.g. Oculus, Vive) directly in a web-browser, without any extra software or plugins installed. 

Aimed at addressing the key challenges of XR integration, i.e. related to latency, extensive data load and significant data security concerns, the WebXR Device API enables to:

  • recognize a compatible XR (VR/AR) device, 
  • render scenes in 3D to the XR device at a suitable frame rate 
  • and move scenes based on the user’s head movements, while also mirroring the output to 2D display (i.e. for regular monitors).

As for the user data privacy aspect, given the sensitivity of data WebXR needs to access, i.e. device camera, location and motion sensors, just to name a few, all WebXR apps currently require explicit user permission to access these device features prior to their launch.

Browser WebXR Support

While both Chrome and Firefox web-browsers currently support certain WebXR functionality, Google is ahead of the game, at least in terms of the amount of developer effort it’s putting in both the development and promotion of related tech solutions.

In particular, just recently the company has introduced the so-called WebXR Experiments, which refer to a collection of web experiences by Google Creative Lab, developed using both the WebXR API and Google’s APIs.

Namely, some of these include: 

  • Floom – provides AR tunnels through Earth,
  • Sodar – helps visualize social distancing, 
  • Measure Up – allows measuring length, volume and area of things around us without any extra measuring tools.

As for the future perspectives, the evolution of WebXR apps will primarily depend on how fast the global adoption of 5G goes, as well as how successful the consequent expansion of VR/AR devices (i.e. smart glasses, headsets, watches, etc.) will be.

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