It's no secret that the future of the web will be a virtual one, especially if you've been reading our blog! From augmented to virtual reality, this new layer of the internet will change how we view content, apps, and more. If you’re following the latest tech news, you’ve probably heard of WebXR. But what does WebXR mean? And, more importantly, are there any cool examples of it already in use? The short answer to the last question is: Yes!
This article will give you a breakdown of everything you need to know about WebXR and provide some examples of what’s already been done with it.
Let’s start with the basics. WebXR stands for Web Extended Reality. Understanding the meaning of “extended reality” is the first step to understanding WebXR. The phrase "extended reality" represents a broad category of immersive technologies that can effectively combine real and virtual worlds.
Let’s briefly look at these technologies:
Augmented reality (AR): The real-time integration of digital information with the user's environment. This technology augments a user's real world with an overlay of digital information.
Virtual reality (VR): A fully immersive 3D simulated experience that allows users to explore and interact with a virtual environment similar to reality.
All forms of immersive technology enhance our perception of the world around us by either fusing the virtual and "real" worlds (with AR) or producing a fully immersive experience (with VR). However, keep in mind that “extended reality” also encapsulates immersive technologies that may not even exist yet.
So with all that being said, what exactly is WebXR?
WebXR encompasses not just VR/AR but also mobile devices and other immersive technologies on which similar experiences can be built. It is the next step in the development of XR technology, as it capitalizes on the strengths of the internet and their consolidation to pave the way for new kinds of virtual and augmented worlds, applications, and more.
Developers can now build XR experience without needing to interact with the underlying hardware, thanks to the emergence of WebXR frameworks and APIs. At the same time, developers need just create their software once, and it will run on any and all devices (Oculus, Vive, mobile phones, desktops, etc.)
More excitingly, users can view VR/AR content directly in their browsers without expensive headsets and without downloading and installing any additional applications. The ability to avoid using applications results in a more user-friendly experience; Users can initiate the experience by just pointing their device's camera at a trigger, such as a QR code, or clicking a link.
Although WebXR is in its infancy, a wide variety of interesting examples have already been developed. Here are just a few:
In collaboration with Emodo, Aircards produced a stunning immersive Holiday Broadway experience. Using the power of Web-based Augmented Reality (WebAR), the experience takes users from their homes to Times Square, where they can explore a variety of spectacular plays currently playing on Broadway and hear a special Holiday greeting from the cast of their favorite musicals.
Aircards created a LUSH portal experience that submerges clients in the enchanted land of the Snow Fairy as part of LUSH's Snow Fairy product promotion throughout the 2021 holidays. Users were given the power to position the portal's enigmatic main door in their immediate area. They were then free to explore the gorgeous, snowy forests and discover the Snow Fairy's enchanted kingdom. While exploring, users could click on interactive hotspots to learn more about LUSH and its Snow Fairy product.
Aircards partnered with TripleClix to allow gamers to enjoy Westmarch with a WebXR DIABLO Immortal experience. Users are first prompted to place the portal in their immediate environment. Users could experience the magnificent metropolis of Westmarch in full 360° WebVR once they've passed through the blazing augmented reality gateway. WebAR allowed players to don in-game armor and learn more about the game through interactive hotspots. Through this fun WebXR experience, fans could connect with the game's creators and learn more about the plot before the game was even released.
Created by Aircards, Summit Scramble was the first cross-platform, real-time multiplayer WebXR game. This multiplayer WebAR game allows users to compare their climbing abilities with their friends and see where they rank on the global leaderboard. Users have the option to play alone or create a multiplayer session across many devices. This experience was even VR compatible, meaning that users could play the game using their Oculus VR headset, control their game character using the Oculus controllers, and look around the volcano scene in full 360 degrees.
Aircards created the multi-layered WebXR Seattle Kraken experience to commemorate the professional ice hockey team, the Seattle Kraken, joining the NHL. It featured a 3D digital version of the Climate Pledge Arena, an animated Zamboni, and an interactive face filter experience. The user is immersed in a virtual environment once the experience is activated, starting out in a wooden paddle boat in the middle of the sea and being welcomed by a sailor in a Seattle Kraken jersey. Then, in a series of events, the user is dragged underwater and transported to a fully immersive 3D model of the Climate Pledge Arena, which they can explore.
The technology behind WebXR is still in its infancy as it grows and evolves, but already we're seeing very real applications for it. The examples above are just the beginning of what's sure to be a fun and exciting area of the tech world.
With WebXR, you can experience more than just the web — you can experience the entire world through your browser. It can also provide users with a way to interact with products and brands that perhaps wouldn’t have appealed to them otherwise. It’ll be exciting to see what else is to come with WebXR and how companies will leverage it to create fun, interactive experiences!
Coca-Cola HBC recently collaborated with Summit Scramble, the WebXR powered mini-game developed by Aircards and powered by 8th Wall.
Organizations are taking note of consumers spending more and more time on their phones browsing the web. The potential for WebAR, in particular, to target tech-savvy Gen-Z consumers is huge.