Immersive Web Weekly

Issue #014, August 11, 2020,

As 2020 continues to plow a hole through history and raze the institutions on which we depend it has been a relief to see that people continue to build towards a stronger and more open future. It's not every week that an entirely new immersive browser arrives, new interaction techniques are unlocked, and empowering new workflows are available for anyone with a browser. I'm deeply grateful that all of that happened this week because of our collective efforts. Get ready because it's another Immersive Web Weekly!

- Trevor Flowers from Transmutable

Firefox Reality Opens a New Window

Until recently Mozilla's Firefox Reality immersive-first web browser was limited to mobile headsets like Microsoft's Hololens, Pico's neo2, and Facebook's Quest. A pair of announcements this week revealed that a Windows-compatible version landed in HTC's Viveport store and Microsoft's Windows app store. Because Firefox Reality is designed to be used without traditional screens, VR users on PC can now stay in their headsets while browsing the flat web for new WebXR content. Developers will also be pleased to see that they can now use the Javascript console without leaving their XR WIPs.

A Handy Lib

Now that the WebXR Hand API has an experimental implementation in the wild (as covered in issue #12) developers like Stewart Smith are building higher level hand utilities. This week Smith released Handy.js, a library for defining and detecting complex hand gestures. Combined with rendering libraries like Three.js, PlayCanvas (see below), and Babylon.js, Handy.js makes it possible for users to see and intuitively use their hands on the immersive web.

Controllers and Hands Arrive In PlayCanvas

Following the recent release of PlayCanvas version 1.33.0 with support for the experimental WebXR Hand API, prolific developer Max M created a demo with support for WebXR Controller Profiles. Together, these two technologies will ensure that users with or without tracked controllers can enjoy immersive web experiences without a lot of effort from developers.

Classic Computing in WebXR

Three pieces of history landed on the immersive web this week. First, the rather amazing museum at Bletchley Park released a detailed immersive scan of a wide variety of antique computers, including the WWII-era Bombe and Enigma machines. Second, the famous San Francisco Bay area hackerspace, Noisebridge, was scanned and released on Sketchfab. Finally, noclip (an amazing collection of class video game levels) has WebXR support for people who want to escape 2020 to travel a few old maps.

Shrink Your Big Art

Khronos revealed that the DGG's RapidCompact web-based service now supports the latest glTF standard. DGG's tool converts massive computer aided design (CAD) files and detailed location scans (see previous article) into standards-based, web-sized files that won't saturate users' net connections and burn through their batteries.