Los Angeles-based cinematic virtual reality (VR) startup Within launched a new website Wednesday that makes it possible to experience VR on any device — be it a full-fledged headset, a Cardboard viewer, or even a mobile phone or PC desktop.
Within’s new site makes use of an emerging technology called WebVR that plays VR experiences directly in supported browsers, without the need to download any additional software. Headset users can navigate the website directly while in VR, with the help of their respective hand controllers and tracking tools.
Anyone who doesn’t have a VR headset yet can access it with a traditional web browser, and simply pan around in a video the old-fashioned way. “We aim to make it as easy as possible for fans to discover and share truly great VR experiences,” said Within’s content launch manager Jon Rittenberg in a statement.
Some of the content available on the site includes the Obama White House doc “The People’s House” from Felix & Paul Studios, the animated short “Asteroids” from Baobab Studios and the pioneering short film “Evolution of Verse” from Within’s own CEO Chris Milk.
Within cooperated for the creation of the site with Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, which has been a key player in the development of the WebVR standard. In addition to developing the technical underpinnings of running VR experiences on the web, the browser maker has also been busy developing its own WebVR applications and demos, including a social WebVR platform called Hubs.
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WebVR is still in its infancy, as most VR producers have thus far focused on building native apps for the various VR headsets available to consumers. Some of the early adopters of the technology have included VR porn studios, whose subscription services have been barred from distributing content via the app stores of the major headset makers.
But as the number of available headsets grows, there are also some benefits to mainstream publishers for building WebVR websites, as they offer the promise of reaching the widest audience possible. “We’re excited to see such big platforms making a bet on WebVR,” said Mozilla’s mixed reality director Lars Bergstrom about Within’s new site. “As new devices reach more people, we expect the WebVR specification will continue to grow and evolve.”