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Web future of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been here for a while and as you all know it has recently got a new lease of life. Yet despite all the hype, it is still far from the levels of popularity of social media or even voice assistants. Using VR is still just a bit too painful: you first got to turn on your PC/phone/console, launch the desired experience, and then quickly put on that its big and clunky helmet. You can’t just simply sit down, play and wholeheartedly enjoy the experience. Not just yet, sadly.

VR is the future and will greatly affect all our digital interactions. This is just the beginning, and all the Valley giants are investing in this for a reason. And we have already seen some results in apps, socials media and games. Virtual reality has also started to make small steps onto the web. As Facebook and Youtube both support 360 videos now. Google, Firefox, and Samsung are dedicating resources and making specialised VR-viewing browser that use WebVR API, to convert any website into VR experiences, as well as supporting purposefully-built interactive experiences. Namely, WebVR is an open-source JavaScript API, that purposefully  allows to experience VR in a browser, with any device. As a result, there is a developing plethora of WebVR platforms that makes it possible for developers and designer to create and share their own immersive creations, such as JanusVR, A-Frame, Rodin, Kokowa, X3DOM and others. As the developer world is yet relatively quietly working on the new libraries, features and platforms, Web VR is about to explode.

Think about it, it is inevitable. Virtual reality allows for more natural experiences and interactions, it is only a matter of time it gets good enough for us to use it on a daily basis. Currently, the primary technology has us staring at dimensional screens, wiggling with a mouse or taping a flat surface. And that took a significant learning curve. Remember back in 2000s when all interfaces looked so realistic? For instance, when music players had buttons and dials, with bevels, shadows and texture to resemble real sound boards. The 2-D nature of the digital was too novel for many users, so the interfaces were designed to feel as physical and relatable as possible to make them understand how to use the software. Only after two decades, and a generation growing up with the new tech, a minimalistic flat design managed to take a foothold against the natural realism of UI/UX.

Yet, mouse and keyboards are still clumsy compared to the innate possibilities that VR offers. Soon, hardware interfaces will be obsolete and replaced with voice recognition, eye tracking and haptic gestures to control our devices. In this case, the physical desktop is merely a brief and awkward evolutionary step before our natural behaviour can be fully replicated with and into the digital. Here, WebVR offers a a first step into that frictionless VR experience. No more hassles about downloading and launching an app for any specific experience, no more waiting and frustration, but an endless wonder of internet at your nose tip. A seamless experience that can serve either an average social media user to a hard-core MMO gamer.

In that case, it becomes apparent that VR is the future of UI/UX. As VR facilitates faster, more immersive and intimate interactions, designers will have to completely change their approach foe experience design. It is still difficult to picture how exactly the new ecosystem will grow and develop. But some things are certain. UX/UI designer will have into account a greater variety of devices and screen sizes. As design of mobile website is a new norm now, in the near future in addition to that one will have to think about a VR experience on wither phone or desktop device. Similarly, all the input methods that each device accommodates to, have to be considered and designed for. 

Furthermore, current web design is not the best suite for the natural interactivity of Virtual reality. If VR signals a return to more natural behaviour, designer will have to conceive a different way to deliver the information to replace the long 2-dimensional chunks of text. Just imagine the possibilities! If it is about coming back to the roots, any website could become a personalised exhibition resembling a walk in the museum, where each page is a different hall. With 3D modelling, 360 angles, layering and some creativity, really strong impressions can be made! Or what about shopping? Picture browsing in Amazon, Asos or Walmart, and viewing items at 1:1 scale, try them on and see yourself in a virtual mirror? The possibilities are almost endless here, and it is very exciting!

VR in the web may not be sexy yet, but the takes about to turn very soon. Be ready.

More posts by Maryna Babych

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