At SVVR 2016, Google’s Boris Smus took to the stage to present the latest advances in the WebVR platform that aims to bring virtual reality to the web.

After allowing browsers to interact with VR headsets, another major challenge of bringing VR to the web is getting browsers to achieve performance-parity with the sort of downloaded executables that are responsible for most VR experiences today. WebGL has brought powerful 3D rendering capabilities to the web, but for legacy technical reasons, rendering in Google’s Chrome browser has been capped at 60 FPS. That puts WebVR experiences through Chrome far behind the 90 FPS bar set by the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, let alone even being able to hit the Rift DK2’s 75 FPS.

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But that will change soon according to Boris Smus, a Software Engineer at Google who created the ‘WebVR Boilerplate‘, a foundation of code which allows for ‘native’ VR experiences that run directly in the browser from the web. Smus spoke about the present and future of WebVR at SVVR 2016 last month.

In addition to extolling the benefits of web-based VR deployment compared to the download-and-run ‘app’ model, Smus said that WebVR through Chrome would soon be on equal performance footing thanks 90 FPS rendering in Chrome. He showed off the new rendering capability along with support for the HTC Vive in Chrome through WebVR.

The brief video showed by Smus on stage demonstrated independent tracking of the Vive headset and controllers at 90 FPS through a custom build of Chrome, which he said would hopefully soon find its way to the stable release of the browser.

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Smus went on to say that “WebVR performance is now good enough to deploy real things,” and encouraged the audience to explore the possibilities of using WebVR to distribute VR content. He points to Google’s Chinese Lantern experience and the LA Times’ Exploring Gale Crater as two real projects already making use of the technology.

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  • Haukebr

    So Hose do I vier this from the Vive?

  • Should we interpret this innovation as the reduced need for mobile apps? Will the Web turn into a VR experience through the browsers? This is looking very interesting.

    • Smokey_the_Bear

      So If I’m reading that correctly, would this not make fancy GPU’s like pascal, irrelevant?

      If all the data is crunched on some fancy super computer, then all I need is a good internet speed, and I get get all the glorious VR content, piped straight to my eyeballs.

      • Chase Moskal

        @Smokey_the_Bear:disqus – not exactly.

        The power of Web GL, is that it provides GPU access to web applications. Web VR is a way that a web application can use Web GL to leverage the user’s GPU power in a virtual reality context.

        If you browse to a Web VR demo, your browser will download the application code (javascript), and then execute it on your own machine, utilizing your fancy powerful GPU to do all the rendering.

        Web GL and Web VR are the tools that we’ve needed for a long time to finally overcome the web’s historical limitations (performance) which had traditionally made native-installed apps a preferable platform for applications like rendering and games.

        Even still, native is faster by *at least* 20%, so the web is a good choice for an application which prioritizes portability and instant-access over high performance. Now with devices being so powerful, this trade-off is quickly becoming feasible for even pretty sophisticated 3D games.

        • throwaway account

          Imagine a person from the 1800’s reading these paragraphs.

      • Adrian Meredith

        Not at all

      • MaciekBaron

        I’m not sure where you got this idea from, the article does mention anything like that. I don’t think you’ll ever have a streaming service like that because of latency issues that will be impossible to overcome. This article simply states that the Chrome browser will be capable of rendering VR experiences written in JavaScript and using WebGL. All of the processing still happens on your computer.

        • Latency will be the same as you experience in games now… 30-50ms which is usable.. no?

          • Cameron Brown

            Bit late but anything less than 10-12 ms will make you sick

  • Oscar Tong

    Does this custom build of Chrome rely on any specific hardware, for example a GTX970 graphics card? Or it can just run at any general computer?