While VR on the web is still in its infancy, two new experiences highlighted by Mozilla’s ‘MozVR’ team reveal diverse takes on what kind of VR content will find a home in your browser.
VR on the web is expanding and evolving. I’m talking about native browser-readable, cross-platform, and responsive responsive experiences that run directly in your browser. ‘Write once, deploy everywhere’ is the ultimate dream of the web. It’s the one common language you can count on every modern device speaking, and that makes it a massive, if challenging, platform for distribution.
And even though it’s the early days for VR on the web, we’re already seeing pioneers deploy diverse experimental content. The latest Web VR experiences to be highlighted by MozVR, a team within Mozilla who’re ironing out the details VR on the web, each have something unique to show.
Inspirit, by Arturo Paracuellos, is a truly cross platform experience, capable of functioning with or without VR on both desktop and mobile (just pop your phone into VR smartphone adapter like Cardboard). There’s a native Android version of Inspirit too, just for good measure. That’s an achievement not just from a technical standpoint, but also one of design.
The pre-experience presentation is also very well done, allowing the user to choose which way they’d like to view the experience. If you’re on a smartphone, it will even pause automatically for you until you rotate into the proper landscape view. Very handy.
Inspirit puts the viewer in the middle of a circular track, around which they can guide a cube-headed creature. By directing the figure with your gaze to a polyhedron laying on the ground and then to a corresponding slot for that shape, you slowly illuminate the dark landscape with color and sound. After collecting and correctly placing all of the shapes, the figure walks toward you as you slowly rise up into the sky to see the colorful landscape that you’ve brought to life.
I’m very excited to see this tech continue to mature, such that creators can begin focusing on narrative while knowing that there story can be told in VR through the web across a huge range of devices.
This piece consists of three 3D printed sculptures together with an associated virtual reality experience. The three sculptures visualise different 4D symmetry groups. A monkey motif is placed in each cube, octahedron or dodecahedron of the 8-, 24- or 120-cell, giving objects with symmetry groups the 8-element quaternion group, the binary tetrahedral group, and the binary icosahedral group respectively. The designs are radially projected to the 3-sphere then stereographically projected to 3-space. The VR experience animates each of these, showing one generator of each symmetry group. The virtual monkeys are coloured by an algorithm based on the Hopf fibration from the 3-sphere to the 2-sphere, which is then embedded in the RGB colour cube.
Yup, the “8-element quaternion group” and the “binary icosahedral group”… that’s exactly what I was gonna say.
What the layman sees is a freaky visualization of colorized interlinked primates, animated in such a way that when one monkey reaches the ‘top’, it stretches out into a sphere around you, traveling back down to the bottom where it forms back into the shape of a monkey, all together as one unbroken chain. Clicking the mouse while inside the experience appears to switch between the various shapes mentioned in the description above.
Beyond the benefits of cross-platform deployment, Web VR opens a unique avenue to virtual reality experiences that may not otherwise exist; much like the world’s latest funny cat video might not be worth watching if you had to download it as an app instead of streaming it instantly from YouTube, Web VR provides a platform for creators to make unique bite-sized experiences that don’t need to justify a download.