eleVR Player with Native Browser Support

posted in: Announcements | 0

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When I first wrote the eleVR web video player, webVR wasn’t something that people were really doing. Oculus support was through the “functional, but finicky” third-party vr.js plugin, and the whole experience felt less native to the web than I would have liked. In the ideal of webVR, the web developer should not even need to know which HMD a viewer is using – that is taken care of by the browser itself, but that kind of VR support simply didn’t exist when we first released the eleVR player.

Since that release, both Firefox and Chrome have started developing experimental versions of their browsers that “natively” support VR headsets. I love the experience and the idea of native webVR support. It seems much more sensible to not force the developer to have to develop separately for every possible HMD and not requiring a plug-in makes it instantly accessible to more people.

Thus, I am thrilled to officially announce that the latest official ‘major release’ of the eleVR Player works out-of-the-box with your webVR-enabled browser with your Oculus DK1 or DK2. You can check out our demo player here, but make sure that you are using a webVR-enabled browser if you want it to work with your Oculus!

eleVR player

I’ve also added some more keyboard controls, so that you can easily access standard player functionality even in VR mode. Hopefully the next version of the player will come with intuitive native VR functionality such that you won’t even have to peek out from under your HMD to press the play button, but we found the keyboard shortcuts to be extremely convenient.

 

Key Control
p play/pause
l toggle looping
f full screen webVR mode (with barrel distortion)
g regular full screen mode (less lag)
w up
a left
s down
d right
q rotate left
e rotate right

 

Right now, the experimental web browsers introduce substantial lag to the player. The projection of the HMD is so abstracted from the developer as to be part of a “second pass” done by the browser, and not only is that second pass a bit slow, but it’s also just sub-optimal to need two passes for a video player. If you want to see just how much lag is introduced for yourself, try comparing the ‘f’ full screen mode with the browser added HMD appropriate projection to the ‘g’ full screen mode without the distortion. Beyond that the webVR-enabled browsers have only just started being developed, we expect them to become less laggy and generally improve rapidly over a fairly short time frame.

The ideal of having the HMD entirely abstracted away from the web developer may end up having some of the same issues that developing for mobile web has, where, ideally, you shouldn’t need to test that your stuff works with every phone, but you end up wanting to anyways because of small fiddly phone implementation differences. That said, I’ve had no issues when testing with the two different Oculus HMDs that I have at my disposal, so we’re doing pretty well so far.

As always, the eleVR Web Player is open source on GitHub, so please feel free to fork us if you want to experiment and possibly contribute to our project.

-Andrea