Towards the Immersive Web
2016 started with a plethora of announcements around Virtual Reality, and ended with the publication of the report from the Web & Virtual Reality workshop which explored how we can make the Web a great platform for Virtual Reality Experiences.
2017 saw a good number of milestones toward that: WebVR 1.1 is now available by default in a few browsers (notably Firefox since its version 55), and as an experimental feature in many more (including Chrome and Edge). In parallel to the development and adoption of WebVR 1.1, a major rewrite of WebVR (under the code name of WebVR 2) was started to take into account a number of design issues that had emerged.
2017 was also a year with many announcements enabling more robust usage of Augmented Reality technologies (notably, ARCore and ARKit on mobile operating systems), and the WebVR community eagerly experimented with these new capabilities to see how the Web could become a major platform for augmented reality.
While these experimentations naturally adopted the name WebAR, it also became clear that there was enough of overlap of requirements between AR and VR to address these core needs together.
This combination of a major rewrite of the WebVR specification and the need to prepare for Augmented and Mixed Reality experiences have led the WebVR Community Group to change its name, reflecting a new scope: it is now known as the Immersive Web Community Group, with a scope encompassing not only Virtual Reality, but also Augmented and Mixed Reality. In the same vein, what had been known as WebVR 2 has now become the WebXR Device API.
These changes and input from the very dynamic community of WebVR adopters were all at the heart of a new workshop I had the pleasure to help organize at the very end of 2017 in Brussels. We are still working on the report from that workshop - stay tuned for a lot more news on the Immersive Web front in 2018!