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Innovation and strategy

Virtual Reality – the start of the next computing revolution

Floriana Scanteie

Surely you’ve played a video game that felt so real that you wanted to pinch yourself. Or maybe you’ve watched the birth of a tornado on a meteor website just for fun. If you’re really lucky, you’ve probably even developed virtual reality applications for PCs, consoles or mobile devices. Specialists say that virtual reality is the next big thing in the tech field and there are many reasons why important companies all over the word invest heavily in web VR development.

VR’s massive support through investments

Worldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality market are projected to approach $14 billion in 2017, according to IDC. But that’s forecast to explode to $143 billion by 2020. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Sony, Disney, LG and many more are VR leaders spending hundreds of millions on R&D into virtual reality that is realistic and doesn’t make you nauseas when you use it, a common effect of VR headsets.

Consumer interest in VR is also increasing. VR hardware sales alone are expected to grow up to $2.4 billion in 2017, while VR software sales are estimated to grow up to $2.8 billion by 2018, according to virtual reality consulting firm KZero.

Client-side companies observe the massive attraction of virtual reality over the consumers, so they are interested in working with IT companies that can develop VR applications and websites for their products. This is not just a very cool thing to do nowadays, but it is also user-efficient. Let’s say you own a real estate business. Web VR can sell better than your best sales-person just by virtually immersing the client into an estate you want to sell or rent out. All you need is a pair of headsets. One can move one’s position during the exploration and due to sensors, the surrounding changes and offers new perspectives over the estate. Not to mention the fact that the property can be hundreds of miles away while your client is virtually analyzing it in the comfort of his own office.

Oculus Rift - VR headset

Source: oculus.com / Oculus is making it possible to experience anything, anywhere, through the power of virtual reality.

Virtual reality can be used in many fields such as video games, real estate, travel hospitality, architecture engineering, construction, etc. It is so revolutionary that it expands fast to education, news, ecommerce, art, entertainment and many more. Web VR is very good for shopping because people see the features of the product they will buy, the hotel room they will stay in, the new house they will move in, the furniture they need in real scale, etc.

Immersive computing changes people’s lives

Web VR is not a new thing (people have been talking about using Web GL to render interactive 3D graphics in the browser for over half a decade, in various different implementations). What is new, however, is the availability of open source libraries that can be used even by novice developers in order to build VR experiences in very little time.

Web VR is an open standard (JavaScript API) that makes it possible to experience virtual reality in your browser although web browsing wasn’t exactly made to be viewed from a VR perspective, but it does open possibilities for more content in the future. VR-focused browsers have started emerging to make it easier for everyone to get into VR experiences, no matter what device you have. In order to experience Web VR, you need two things: a headset and a compatible browser.

This API is designed with the following goals in mind: detect available Virtual Reality devices, query the devices capabilities, poll the device’s position and orientation and display imagery on the device at the appropriate frame rate.

In terms of browsers that support Web VR, you can pick one of these:

  • Mozilla Nightly (desktop)
  • Chronium (desktop)
  • Samsung Internet (mobile)
  • Google Chrome (mobile)
  • WeChat (mobile)
  • Oculus Carmel (HMD)

    Regarding headsets, you can use:

  • Oculus Rift – a virtual reality headset developed and manufactured by Oculus VR, a division of Facebook, released on March 28, 2016.
  • HTC Vive – a high end virtual reality headset developed by HTC and Valve Corporation, released on 5 April 2016
  • Samsung Gear VR – a mobile virtual reality headset developed by Samsung Electronics, in collaboration with Oculus, and manufactured by Samsung; the headset was released on November 27, 2015.
  • Google Daydream View – was announced on October 4, 2016, as the first headset for Daydream.
  • PlayStation VR – a virtual reality headset developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment, launched on October 13, 2016.
  • Google Cardboard – a virtual reality platform developed by Google for use with a head mount for a smartphone.
    PentaBAR 20 Brasov

    We discussed about Virtual Reality and Web VR on PentaBAR #21 #Brasov, a knowledge sharing event where all IT enthusiasts are welcome.

    “In terms of controllers, for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive you’ll find them in the same package, while Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard use smartphones for display and sensor, says Laurentiu, Pentalog’s Front-End Developer. Also, regarding web frameworks for building virtual reality experiences, Laurentiu would recommend A-Frame as the best choice “because it is based on top of HTML, making it simple to start with”. “It also has support for most VR headsets (Vive, Rift, Daydream, Gear VR, Cardboard) and can be used even for augmented reality. There are lots of current examples that can be used for inspiration.”, Laurentiu says.

    Other popular frameworks and libraries for building VR websites are React VR (great for developers that already know React, as well as for beginners) and Three.js (the library used by A-Frame at its core, recommended to more experienced developers).

    VR creates social experiences

    Immersive computing is going to change the way we play, work, live and learn. We are at the start of the next computing revolution. With Web VR, you get all the benefits of the Web: searchable, linkable, low-friction (no installation required), sharable. Having so many tools available, and with the current industry growth, there has never been a better time to start building!

    Laurentiu was the host of PentaBAR #20 Brasov, an IT knowledge sharing event that we traditionally organize on a regular basis, after work, in order to discuss recent innovation or other IT related topics.

    Interested in developing a VR app with Pentalog? Contact us and see what we’ve done in this field so far.


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