Google is reportedly rolling out virtual reality support for the Chrome browser in January, and it already appears to be a public release.

The technology that is, for now, being called WebVR will first head to the Chrome's beta channel by December this year. The official WebVR will initially ship in 2017 to the Chrome browser for Android before finally heading to the desktop.

This information was confirmed by a Google executive during the W3C Workshop on Web & Virtual Reality held in San Jose last October.

WebVR Technology

For those curious how WebVR works, it allows VR devices such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Google Daydream View VR to access VR content via internet browsers. It is based on a Javascript API that will work on several browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and even Samsung's dedicated internet browser for the Gear VR.

According to Megan Lindsay, Google's WebVR product manager, the public release of the WebVR for Chrome is compatible with the latest WebVR 1.1 spec. Users can simply pop their VR-compatible devices such as the Google Pixel into a VR headset and they could start viewing and interacting with VR contents within web pages instead of installed apps.

Web developers can add VR support to their websites by simply using modules like the WebVR Polyfill and WebVR Samples. To those interested to delve deeper under the WebVR hood, codes are available for the Chromium and Firefox builds online.

Challenges In Developing VR For The Web

Google's next VR-based Chrome release shines light on the on-going initiative to steer WebVR towards a sustained developmental path that could lead to sets of standards and guidelines that will ensure the quality of VR web platforms and contents. It is important to note that the sheer number of internet browser available today makes it challenging to develop WebVR content that will work for all.

So far, stakeholders such as Google, Mozilla, Samsung, Oculus and Microsoft, among others were able to come up with their respective mechanisms that contribute to the standardization in the WebVR platform. For Google, this entailed the Origin Trials Framework, which maintains a framework for exposing experimental flaws in the browser.

WebVR And Google Ecosystem

Google is also reportedly working to ensure that WebVR is seamlessly integrated into the Daydream mobile ecosystem. The company also promised that WebVR-compatible Chrome will support other VR devices such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

During the W3C Workshop on Web & Virtual Reality, Microsoft revealed that its own WebVR technology is currently under development. Even Oculus claims to be in the process of building its own WebVR browser.

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