It was only five years ago, when the idea of a Virtual Reality that was truly immersive was out of the scope of casual users. Last week, the Cyberfrog Design office got its first proper taste of Virtual Reality and it got us thinking: “If this is the future, what does that mean for the web? Is virtual reality possible on the web?”.
On first thought
Whilst it’s early days for VR web, and it sounds a little weird to be thinking of a static scrolling website as a fully immersive experience, there are already working examples. We can imagine going onto Amazon and looking through all the items in full 3D, or trying out clothes in a Missguided Virtual Changing room.
Recently, Shopify demoed their Virtual Reality shop in which they showcased the act of a customer looking for shoes and then purchasing them all in VR. The experience itself is basic but shows the way that immersive websites could lend themselves to the shopping experience.
All the current VR experiences on the web are just tech demonstrations and aren’t woven into the public standard of web browsers we use today. They can only be found via specific URLs and there is little to no commercial application yet due to the lack of public access to the devices required to view it. But come five years down the line, Virtual Reality could very well be the best way to view films in your home.
Virtual Reality websites would put users in an environment to complete their tasks. The development process would become more than just a static layout and more the designing of an environment. 3D models would be tangible and the website could allow users to interact with a company in ways that aren’t currently possible.
With Web VR, YouTube would allow you to watch videos from a number of environments, Microsoft Office VR would allow you to check your emails and do your schedule from a virtual office and with social media such as Facebook, well that’s where things get more exciting.
Social Media Applications could be huge
The world seems smaller now than it did 30 or 40 years ago, with the advent of personal computing, video calling and social media. With a Virtual Reality Web, it might make the world feel even smaller, but that might not be a bad thing.
A recent demonstration by Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, demonstrated the applications of Virtual reality linked in with Facebook. The act of playing games, taking pictures and experiencing things together (co-experience) is already possible outside of the web.
Moving it online and making it readily accessible would mean instead of picture albums on your timeline, you could access whole memories such as weddings or holidays in an immersive way. Your interactions online could be more tangible with user co-experience becoming a research point for VR headset Developers.
Web VR could open the doors to online meetings, which are already possible with applications such as https://cluster.mu/, without even switching from your browser.
Moving to using VR Web inside a VR application there is a beta program called Big Screen which allows users to use their computer screens in a VR world alongside other users. Whilst this isn’t quite the VR Web, it does mean that an office of people could still congregate and have meetings from all over the world, showing each other their screens and work collectively.
We’re still a long way off integrated Web VR, but with companies such as Google and Firefox already paving way for the basics and working to produce an industry standard, sometime soon you’ll be virtually looking around a car showroom searching for your dream car.