Since Facebook paid $2 billion for virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus Rift, it should come as no surprise that the ability to use VR in a web browser has become top tech priority. Now it looks like it’s going to be a reality. Google and Mozilla are both set to release versions of Chrome and Firefox that will support Web VR sometime in the next month or so.
Web VR has been around as a technology since the 1990s, but hardware and demand were never at a level to make it a widespread cultural force. Now that the Oculus Rift and several competitors have appeared, web based applications have started popping up and the two most popular browsers are making sure developers will be able to bring your Facebook right up into your face.
Very soon you could be surfing the web all Minority Report-style, using an XBOX Kinect to swipe in the air and seeing pages as three-dimensional space. It could be used to test drive a car online, watch interactive movies, or “walk” through an immersive version of Google Street View.
If you think that the cost of a VR headset is out of your range (about $300) consider the fact that Google has released a DIY kit to turn your smartphone into one for about $25. Now the future is starting to look a lot more clear.
(Photo: Phil Whitehouse)