Tony Parisi has been working towards creating an open ecosystem of virtual reality helping to co-create the Virtual Reality Modelling Language in the early 90s. He recently took a position at WEVR, and while he’s not revealing too much about the details of what he’s going to be working on at WEVR, it’s likely to do with building out components of the VR ecosystem using open web technologies like WebVR. In this interview, Tony talks about some of the disadvantages of the VR experiences solely being created within walled-garden and proprietary context, and the advantages of moving towards making VR a first-class citizen on the open web.
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I talked with Tony about the current dynamic VR distribution paradigm, which is a walled garden approach where there are guardians of the different platform stores. He says that there are going to be multi-million dollar VR games, a lot of indie developer experiences, but then there’s going to be a huge drop off for everything else where it’s not going to have any distribution options and will likely disappear into obscurity. If there’s content that is too experimental or explicit, then there’s not really a good outlet for type of long-tail material. At the moment it kind of just disappears. Of if there is awareness around the content outside of the official channels, then there has to be specific hacks and workarounds such as the sideloading installation process for mobile VR that users will have to do in order to get access to this content.
Tony acknowledges that the watching VR experiences or playing VR games via the web is not quite viable yet due to the latency issues as well as the fact that the web browsers are locked in at 60 frames per second. He says that one current blocker is that it’s a political decision within each of the browser companies in order to make the required architectural changes in order to optimize browsers to be better suited for the delivery of real-time 3D and immersive virtual reality experiences. However, he points out that one huge step within the last year towards the goal of VR being delivered on the web is that all of the major PC and mobile web browsers implemented WebGL natively.
There’s still a long way to go with the open web and VR, but Tony is committed to helping to make the creation of VR experiences go beyond just the 1 million+ Unity and Unreal developers, and to the more the 10 million web developers.
Tony sees that there’s a lot of the consumer push of VR is around gaming, but that ultimately that he thinks that there’s going to be other more compelling applications of VR. WEVR is obviously focused very heavily in the production of cinematic VR experiences, but Tony is also personally excited about creation tools like Tiltbrush 3D painting application and the Oculus Medium sculpting tool.
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