We believe that WebVR is the next development stage of web technology. VR will change the way we experience the web. People feel that 2D websites are not that interesting since they are flat. Our vision is that the flat 2D websites will become immersive 3D experiences. People will get excited by the vision of having 3D web – for example, an online store in the form of a real space with all products on display for the customers. We, at LensVR, are also excited by this brave vision (3D web) and want to see it come true. We just think the steps toward actualization should be a bit different from those being currently employed.
Our experience with the current web browsers shows that they are unable to offer the necessary performance to support immersive VR and AR experiences. That is why we decided to take a new approach and build, from the ground-up, LensVR – a VR-first browser.
Bilyana Vacheva is the Product Manager/Creator Experience for LensVR, a project of a Bulgarian based company called Coherent Labs (CL). CL’s intent is to finally bring VR to internet users everywhere. Coherent Lab’s method: a web browser that moves faster than any option currently available, which will incorporate 2D sites into 3D virtual space.
This is a different spin on current browsers such as Google’s Chromium, which is based on Chrome, or Firefox Nightly. Both of those are based off 2D browsers that most of us have downloaded at some point or another. But the problem with altering a current browser for Virtual Reality rather than building from the ground up is that they are all based on obsolete data intended for 2D browsing. That data slows down a browser’s performance and negatively impacts a user’s immersion into the virtual world available to them.
What is the difference between the LensVR browser and these other big name browsers?
A year ago VR developers used Unity or Unreal Engine (game engines) to develop VR experiences. If they wanted the experience to work with Oculus, Gear VR, and HTC Vive they had to make 3 different apps. Since browsers are based on web technologies, once you install the LensVR browser on any VR device you will be able to see every website written with WebVR.”
Wait, what is WebVR?
WebVR is an open standard that makes it possible to experience VR in your browser. The goal is to make it easier for everyone to get into VR experiences, no matter what device you have.
But how does this browser bring the 2D world to 3D?
We plan to create a framework with which you can include one or two lines of code in your 2D website and it will be visible in VR the way it is visible now on a computer. This will allow us to bring all current sites to VR. However, if you want to add some cool 3D elements you will need to write additional code.
In other words, making your current website available in VR would be as simple as adding a couple of lines of code to your website. Then, with the LensVR browser, you can open your site to an ever growing population of users shifting their focus from the traditional two dimensional user experience to the three dimensional world of Virtual Reality.
What is it that gives LensVR the edge over current VR browsing options?
VR is a medium that creates more immersive and realistic experiences. For example, imagine a journalist who needs to tell you a story – he can write it down and post it on a 2D website or shoot a 360 video and let us feel and see the story from a first-person perspective.
What is LensVR’s biggest advantage?
Our greatest strength is that our 3D browser is based on our own technology developed for VR. It does not have any additional features that are non-VR. Most of the other browsers are based on Chromium. That may cause a lot of issues that prevent you from enjoying a fully immersive 3D experience due to the non-VR features that traditional browsers were originally created to support.
If you are wondering what that means, it means fast. This browser runs quickly, and so the quality of the VR user experience is far better – faster, more realistic. It allows for the perfect suspension of disbelief.
So how is Billy’s team bringing LensVR to the masses?
I would say that our first step is to make it very simple for non-deep tech people so they will be able to work with LensVR and create simple content for VR (nothing fancy but comprehensible for everyone). Actually bringing the 2D web in VR is not going to be very difficult. We want to offer guidelines to developers like: ‘Ok, guys, you want your wordpress blog or site to be shown in VR. Complete these steps and you will see it in VR. Later on, we will add features for more advanced developers who want to do more complex stuff.
What are the implications of introducing 2D sites to the 3D world?
Right now we are limited by the 2D space; we imagine that with the browser of the future you will be able to create whole libraries of websites (related tabs, etc.) and place them, for example, in the form of a book while browsing other information!
So, we will finally have a fast, efficient technology available to us where developers from any level of VR technical know-how can present their creations in VR, whether it be those who enjoy the detail of high fidelity VR graphics or those who still create rich 2D websites.
What does Billy expect the end result will be of bringing LensVR to the world?
I expect to attract more non-deep developers (devs who currently code in 2D) to use our technology. I hope that people will love and embrace LensVR and will support us. I try to talk to as many VR content creators to understand their aspirations, fears and hopes so we can help them be successful with our technology. In the end it is not about our browser, it is about how it can empower people to reach their goals and fulfil their dreams. Many people are excited by WebVR because they could be the first people to create 3D google ads, or 3D powerpoints – sectors that are quite prevalent now in 2D.
A project with a scope as vast and ambitious as this requires a lot of contributors. Companies as far away as San Francisco are joining the Coherent Labs to help make LensVR become a reality. In my final instalment of this three part series, I will introduce you to the diverse LensVR team. Until then, take care, and may your Virtual Reality dreams come true in Real Reality.