Mozilla has launched a virtual reality website this week in hopes of inspiring others to build their own.
Featuring demos including a fly-through of coastal British Columbia and a 360-degree view of the Arctic, MozVR.com is intended to offer a "native VR" Web experience, Mozilla technologists said in a statement. Mozilla will use the site to share these experiences, offer resources, and showcase work from developers in the VR Web community. "To make it easier for others to build their own VR Web sites, we are sharing [our] solutions on MozVR and GitHub, from source code, to tools, to tutorials," the statement says.
"Virtual reality provides a sense of immersion that is typically not there when viewing content on a traditional 2D screen," said Mozilla Engineering Director Vladimir Vukicevic, in an email. He anticipates multiple possibilities for virtual reality in the business world. "Any industry that could benefit from innovative and immersive visualization can benefit from virtual reality," Vukicevic said. "Business data mining, medical analysis, and industrial training are all valid use cases, right alongside games and recreation."
The navigation interface on the site allows users to move from site to site without friction. "Like a heads-up display, menus and loading indicators appear as unobtrusive layers that wrap the experience and are easily summoned or dismissed. Clicking a link becomes like teleportation," Mozilla technologists said.
Using the site, however, requires a VR-enabled build of Firefox for the Mac or a PC, plus an Oculus Rift headset. While Rift is the initial test and development device, Mozilla wants a device-agnostic VR Web and will support additional devices soon. VR-enabled builds of Chromium also will work with the site.
Mozilla plans more code and write-ups on how it is building experiments, so developers can learn and build their own VR experiences. "Looking ahead, our UX research efforts will begin to explore interaction with classic Web content in virtual reality, from how we display 2D Web sites in virtual reality to how we perform basic interactions like inputting text and scrolling," said Josh Carpenter, virtual reality researcher at Mozilla.