WebVR is an experimental Javascript API that brings virtual reality apps to your browser. It allows running full-screen, head-tracked VR experiences without having to go through proprietary app stores. WebVR works across a variety of desktop and mobile platforms and requires minimal software pre-requisites. Just like the Web itself, WebVR allows instant sharing, embedding and publishing of content. WebVR would like to work with as many VR devices as possible, just like a Web browser works with computers, phones and other devices.

Vlad Vukicevic and Josh Carpenter of Mozilla started the WebVR project in 2014. WebVR has grown in popularity is now part of an official distribution of Firefox and is also available on Chrome thanks to the work of Brandon Jones and others at Google. Samsung recently announced the release of VR Internet browser that also supports WebVR, bringing WebVR to more users.

The OSVR software platform, designed by Sensics and now supported by nearly 400 companies, connects applications and game engines to hundreds of VR display, input and output devices using a common universal interface, and does so on multiple operating systems.

One of the challenges facing WebVR is how to deliver a quality experience while supporting multiple hardware vendors, each with their own API.  ranging from HMDs such as the HTC Vive, to hand tracking devices such as Leap Motion. OSVR is a natural solution to this challenge as OSVR already supports dozens of HMDs, and enables use of various interfaces such as position and orientation tracking, eye tracking, skeleton, controllers, locomotion, output and more.

Given our common goals, we began integrating OSVR into WebVR starting from Firefox. As of today, users can try out OSVR-WebVR in the latest nightly builds for Firefox (see links below). OSVR integration will become part of the official release soon.

With the current integration, OSVR-WebVR allows users to experience WebVR with any device supported by OSVR. This includes HMDs such as OSVR HDK, Sensics, Vuzix, Oculus and HTC, numerous position and orientation trackers, controllers such as the Razer Hydra, HTC Vive Controller, the Nod Backspin and others. One of the most important goals of WebVR is interoperability, meaning that users can experience content across a wide spectrum of hardware. OSVR and WebVR brings us closer towards the common goal of democratizing VR, transferring the choice of hardware to the users and away from single-vendor, walled-garden solutions.

Upcoming improvements: Now that the initial OSVR integration with Firefox is complete, WebVR could potentially use all the available OSVR interfaces such as eye tracking, plugins such as augmented reality target recognition and more. Hundreds of VR devices that were not supported by WebVR are now available by virtue of the OSVR integration. Moreover, as new devices get added to OSVR, they automatically become available to WebVR. The remaining part is for WebVR to connect its API to these additional OSVR interfaces to bring out all the benefits it has to offer. The OSVR team is working to enhance this integration by incorporating the OSVR Render Manager to enable direct mode, asynchronous time warp, distortion correction and more across a range of HMDs and graphics cards, thereby improving latency and fidelity of the experience.

Useful links:

Instructions for trying OSVR in WebVR