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Samsung Gear VR now compatible with WebVR API

by on11 April 2016

Open draft standard in progress, but looks promising

On April 1st, Samsung announced it will now support the cutting-edge WebVR API on its Gear VR headset, now giving Samsung customers the ability to browse the web with all the immersion of a full VR experience.

WebVR is an experimental JavaScript application programming interface that allows web developers to integrate VR headset support directly into their pages. Of course, the API is still in its early experimental stages and Samsung cautions that some sites will break instead of being rendered correctly. Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty neat tool for current virtual reality users to try for themselves.

samsung gearvr internet intro

"We at Samsung are actively working on and committed to support WebVR. The WebVR support is "experimental" status as the specification is still evolving. The current release is using the deprecated API set, and we hope to update it soon to the latest WebVR draft."

Samsung’s Gear VR is a $99 mobile head-mounted display released in November 2015 on which any Samsung Galaxy S6, S7 and Note 5 users can attach their smartphone to be used as the headset’s display and processor, while the Gear VR unit itself acts as the controller. The headset connects to the smartphone via micro-USB and includes rotational tracking. It also features lower tracking latencies than similar “internal measurement unit” (IMU) devices, such as Google Cardboard.

WebVR v1.0 (Editor's Draft) now available

openweb foundation logo

WebVR is part of the Open Web Foundation, an independent non-profit dedicated to the development of open, non-proprietary specs for web technologies. The current editor's draft is now available under the Open Web Foundation Agreement version 1. The draft is dated April 1 and can be found here.

To enable WebVR, all you need to do is open the Samsung Gear VR internet browser on your headset and visit internet://webvr-enable or visit internet://webvr-disable to disable WebVR support.

The current version of Samsung’s Gear VR internet browser is based on the open-sourced Chromium engine and runs the same version of the engine as the Samsung’s mobile browser for Android devices (M44). The Gear VR browser currently supports streaming 360-degree videos, streaming 3D videos and streaming 3D 360-degree videos, and also supports Bluetooth input devices (keyboards, mice and controllers). More details can be found here.

Mozilla’s version of WebVR is called MozVR, which allows Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift users to install the WebVR enabler-addon for Firefox and browse webpages through the head-mounted displays. (Note: Apple Macs are currently not recommended for VR content with the Oculus Rift due to freezing issues).

The WebVR JavaScript API is currently available in Firefox nightly builds and experimental builds of Chrome. The latest builds for Firefox and Chrome can be found here and here.

webvr interfaces

WebVR interfaces as of April 2016

For those of you with an HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR or any supported rotational tracking headset, a few WebVR sample pages can be found here.

Last modified on 11 April 2016
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