Mozilla brings Firefox Reality into reality
For the past few years Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, has been at the forefront of immersive reality on the web, becoming one of the first companies to experiment with WebVR. Today, it’s taking the next step with both VR and AR.
Firefox Reality is Mozilla’s brand new web browser designed specifically for use with standalone VR and AR headsets. It’s an open source, independent application designed to be accessible on a wide variety of headsets (no specific support yet, though the video in this post is running on HTC’s new Vive Focus). Currently, there are other browsers and apps that support browsing the web in VR, but they’re limited to specific headsets, like Google’s Chrome VR support on Daydream, or Samsung’s own browser for Gear VR.
The browser gives you full access to the web with native controller integration. Standard web pages and videos will appear as virtual windows, though Mozilla ultimately sees this as a platform for transitioning from one VR experience to another seamlessly. It’s early days for the browser, but the company sees it as laying the foundation for answering a wealth of questions on how VR and AR on the web should work in the years to come.
And, as for your personal information and preferences, Mozilla says it takes the matter very seriously. “Mixed reality is still new,” a blog post reads. “We don’t yet have all the answers for what privacy looks like in this new medium, but we are committed to finding the solution. We will continue to build on the proven permissions model of the web platform, which provides even more protection than native apps provide.”
Mozilla R&D Chief: “The future of the web will be heavily intertwined with VR and AR”
According to Mozilla Chief R&D Officer, Sean White: “Here at Mozilla, it’s our mission to ensure that the Internet is an open and accessible resource that puts people first. Currently, the world can browse the open web using our fast and privacy-focused Firefox browser, but continuing that mission in a rapidly changing world means constantly investing our time and resources into new and emerging technologies – and realities.”
Firefox Reality is set to be entirely open-source. This is in order to make it easier for manufacturers to add the browser to their platform, but also allows users to get a closer look at how the browser operates, what data it captures and how it processes it. With privacy concerns for online applications very much in the public consciousness at present, this will likely provide some comfort.
White says that at the moment, mixed reality is trying to find its feet: “Mixed reality is the wild west. How do you type? How do you express emotion? How do you view the billions of existing 2D web pages as well as new 3D content? How do you communicate? Who maps the world and who controls what you see? Can we build on our work with voice recognition and connected devices to create a better browsing experience? We love tackling these questions. Everything is new again, and we are constantly building and experimenting to find the right answers.”