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California, 2014 – Software engineer Vladimir Vukićević from Mozilla was one of the first to envisage a Web which the user can experience in VR. Two years later, Mozilla VR and Google Chrome released a proposal for a WebVR application programming interface. Today, numerous industries experiment with WebVR, building on browser-operated 3D experiences. And soon you will, too.

The Upsides

But why WebVR? Because it has reach. And it’s easier. Given that the ideal infrastructure is already there, browsing in VR is quicker and more direct than using the respective mobile app.  Once interested parties (future customers, clients, partners & readers) access the website, it only takes a click to enter the WebVR mode with a mobile based headset and suddenly, they are in. Time-consuming downloads or setups? Gone. Moreover, web-powered VR experiences are headset-agnostic since it’s possible to use any headset you like: from a basic cardboard to highly sophisticated equipment. This makes the WebVR ecosystem open, user-friendly and easy to enter for target groups regardless of age, gender, education and income. It opens up the VR world to the masses.

Furthermore, it is possible to program a WebVR website by coding in HTML and JavaScript thanks to frameworks such as A-Frame and React. Both lower the barrier to creating WebVR experiences, since they eliminate the need of building a new specific VR-language. It is important to mention that neither A-Frame nor React jeopardize the initial layout of the website, since the user can always leave the WebVR mode and consume the web content in 2D as they usually would. This development in building WebVR websites paves the way for higher audience reach and user engagement.

The Downsides

However, the ideal infrastructure is still in the making. WebVR might be headset-agnostic, but it is surely not browser-agnostic. Currently, one can experience web-operated 3D worlds only when using specific browsers with special API settings enabled. Second, the current WebGL version is limited when it comes to the quality of WebVR experiences. WebGL is an API for embedding 3D content into browsers; but the market has many other competitors to offer. Specifically, there are more powerful game engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine with which content creators can build high-end 3D worlds. Nonetheless, hopes are high that a better developed WebGL will result in captivating and lifelike WebVR experiences.

WebVR: Three brilliant examples

Browsing in VR can be highly effective for several fields such as real estate and travel, where real-world spaces can be perfectly tracked in 3D. According to Google, WebVR experiences will also expand into areas like news, art and e-commerce. Here are three examples of how museums, healthcare institutions and even the film industry can benefit from WebVR sites.

1.The Searching Planet VR by Google and Miraikan

In cooperation with the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) of Japan, Google created a big data project with significant visualization prowess. It allows you to immerse fully in the world of internet search trends. What monuments, sites and places are people interested in worldwide? Find out here!

2. Meditate VR

Finding a silent, peaceful place to escape reality and focus on oneself is not easy. Yoga studios are pricey, and attending meditation-classes in Bali even more so. Especially for specific social groups (f.e hospital patients) meditating in nature is almost impossible.

This is why MeditateVR offers it’s users the chance to immerse in a calming, soothing environment, only with a click on their WebVR site!

3. Blair Witch

Is there a better way of communicating the excitement and thrill of a horror movie to its viewers than in VR? Blair Witch, a VR experience launched in 2016 for the American supernatural thriller invites its fans to an intense and emotional experience. So “enter the woods at your own risk” here.

Blair Witch 360° Web VR Experience from Part IV on Vimeo.

Undoubtedly, companies can profit from WebVR experiences, as it has the potential to overcome the hurdles to user adoption and reach. Curious about how you can use 3D content on your website? We’ve just released WebVR platform support in the stereosense VR app builder. We’ve built it on top of ReactVR and you can use it to publish 360° video portfolio & playlist pages for free.